chapter  8
34 Pages

Homeland and hate: right-wing extremism and neo-Nazi militancy in unified Germany, 1990-present

The initial feelings of euphoria after unification rapidly gave way to the harsher realities of restructuring the five new eastern Lander and the degree to which the costs of this process impacted on West Germans. Indeed, the economic difficulties had been severely underestimated and gave way to resentment in the east while the mounting costs associated with the rejuvenation of eastern Germany intensified anger in the west. This negative environment temporarily boosted the anti-system appeal of the far right, particularly in the five new eastern regions. This was evident in a series of election results in the early to mid-1990s.' The most notable took place in the Land elections in Baden-Wurttemberg in April 1992 when the Republikaner staged a minicomeback by capturing 10.9 per cent of the vote and in the DVU's success in the April 1992 elections in Schleswig-Holstein when it secured 6.3 -per

1990 F 1994 F 1994 E 1998 F 1999 E

0.3 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4

2.1 1.9 3.9 0.4 1.7

By the end of the 1990s the DVU had regional associations in all 16 German states. It has representation in three of Germany's 16 regional parliaments, namely Bremen (6 per cent of the vote in Bremerhaven in June 1999), Brandenburg (5.3 per cent in September 1999) and SaxonyAnhalt (12.9 per cent in 1998). Part of its success owes much to its financial resources and ability to conduct large-scale publicity initiatives at the regional levels. Success is not always guaranteed, however, and at the regional elections in Thuringia in September 1999, the DVU only managed to capture a 'poor' 3.1 per cent of the votes. One of the most notable developments in recent years within the right-wing extremist camp has been the decision by Frey and the Republikaner chairman, Dr Rolf Schlierer, to 'normalize' relations between the two parties. In practice this new working relationship means that the parties as far as possible will now not put up competing candidates at elections and thus risk splitting the far right vote. This agreement has already borne fruit and seen the Republikaner stand aside in Bremen and Brandenburg while the DVU have stood down their candidates in Hesse and Berlin. To what extent this will reverse the declining fortunes of right-wing extremism is debatable. The DVU can point to successes, but these can neither be guaranteed nor sustained as the series of regional election results from 1998 to early 2000 illustrate in table 8.2.