21 August 2003
Trying to have it both ways
It's not every day I get to quote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but here's an opinion piece by Anke Bryson that provokes no small amount of thought. Apparently at least some Germans are wearying of waiting in the welfare line:
Fifty-one percent of Germans would prefer to live in a political system where individuals can assume as much responsibility for their own lives as possible, according to a new survey by the Allensbach opinion research institute. Some commentators have hailed this as a sign that their compatriots are finally tiring of a state that swallows more than half of their output only to redistribute much of it in a highly dubious manner.
And maybe they are. German socialism is extremely expensive, and not just in Deutsche marks (or, lately, euros). But don't expect the electorate to lurch rightward anytime soon:
Are Germans finally prepared to shake off this corset and exchange it for more freedom and self-responsibility? Not necessarily: It is also possible to conclude from the Allensbach poll that tens of millions of Germans still want the state to play the leading role in looking out for them. It shows that nearly half of all eastern Germans, and one-third of western Germans, believe the state should assume primary responsibility for its citizens.
The East, of course, spent all those years under the Soviet yoke. Still, if there's a substantial number of Germans chafing under their system of government, there's a chance that it will eventually be modified for the better.
(Muchas gracias: Hans Ze Beeman of Cum Grano Salis, who comments: "Well, 51 percent seem to approach the Clue, that is more than I expected.")