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Germans Feel Democracy Is the Best Form of Government

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People in Germany feel that democracy is the best form of government. This is equally true for native Germans, immigrants and non-German nationals living in Germany. Those are the findings of a representative survey carried out on behalf of the Bertelsmann Stiftung by the Forschungsgruppe Wahlen research institute. Respondents were more skeptical, however, when it came to how well Germany’s democracy is functioning, with 45 percent of those queried  and 58 percent in the country’s eastern states expressing doubt. Immigrants and those whose families immigrated, on the one hand, and young people with limited education, on the other, say they are particularly dissatisfied in this regard.

The level of dissatisfaction rises, moreover, the longer immigrants have lived in the country. Overall, 76 percent of non-Germans who have spent one-third of their life in Germany say they are satisfied with how Germany’s democracy works, while only 48 percent of those who have spent more than two-thirds of their life there agree.

Of those respondents under 34 years of age who completed their schooling at a Hauptschule (a school that generally only prepares students for a vocation or trade), approximately half (53.2 percent) say they are satisfied with the country’s democratic system. Among respondents in this age group, however, who went to a school that offered them the possibility of going on to university, the figure is 71 percent. Similarly, 70 percent of young adults who attended a Hauptschule feel that democracy is the best type of government, considerably lower than the 90 percent of students qualified for university who feel this way.

“Education and social inclusion are apparently the key to accepting democracy,” says Jörg Dräger, member of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board. “The numbers are alarming, and it is the responsibility of policymakers to ensure all people living in Germany have equal access to quality education and to opportunities for participating in the country’s democratic system.”

Giving citizens of non-EU countries the right to vote in local elections and allowing dual citizenship are two possibilities for increasing the degree to which foreign nationals living in Germany participate in the country’s democratic systems. These possibilities, however, are controversial among the public. Local-level voting rights are supported by almost half (47 percent) of immigrants, for example, while only 31 percent of native Germans say they are in favor of them. Dual citizenship is more widely accepted, with a total of 38 percent saying they support it (53 percent of immigrants and 35 percent of native Germans). Among respondents under 24 years of age, however, a full 52 percent say they endorse the possibility of holding two passports.

The response was mixed when respondents were asked about integration assistance for foreigners. Overall, 22 percent are of the opinion that “too much” is being done to help non-Germans integrate, while 32 percent say that “too little” is being done. Among immigrants, 38 percent say more support is needed. Moreover, 78 percent of native Germans and 68 percent of those who immigrated or whose families immigrated say that immigrants must do more when it comes to integrating into German society.

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