According to The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Germany qualifies as a country with full democracy, which means that “civil liberties and fundamental political freedoms are not only respected but also reinforced by a political culture conducive to the thriving of democratic principles”. From this index, Germany has a well-grounded system of governmental checks and balances, an independent judiciary with a system to enforce its decisions, there are government institutions that function adequately, and are diverse. Over the years, Germany has had a great record of full democracy because of the changeover of political culture, the conjoined possession, and the revamping of establishments. There was a removal of what earlier observers saw as the major obstacle to German democracy, Junker domination in the east, and that Germany was it no longer included in the east. However, countries like these have limited problems in democratic functioning and political Extremism is one of Germany’s democratic limitations. Some of these limitations are low political participation as a result of political extremism and unhealthy political competition.
Political Extremism has always been deeply rooted in the Democratic institutions of Germany and Right-wing extremism in various guises has troubled parts of Germany for decades and is still prominent until today. The rise of these extremists has made people believe these are threats of neo-Nazis which is gradually shaking up the democratic institutions of Germany. In 2019, the federal Minister of the Interior of Germany, Seehofer, said there are an estimated 24,000 heavily armed far-right extremists in Germany.
Recently, there was an attack on the local politician, Walter Lübcke, who was shot in the head at his home on June 2nd of 2019 and left him dead. sent shockwaves through Germany and raised questions about the country’s response to the rising threat of neo-Nazis. Before his death, Lübcke was a well-known and honest protector of Merkel’s decision to invite and welcome refugees and in 2015 this brought out the anger of right-wing extremists by telling Germans who objected that they could leave the country. The killing of Lübcke is one of several recent cases that have prompted questions as to how the German state combats right-wing extremism who attack government officials opposing their ideologies and how this affects the country’s democracy. These far-right extremists spread rejectionist philosophies, proffer illiberal policies and promote intolerance of targeted groups, therefore creating a dangerous atmosphere for anyone with a different ideology. All of which are against what a democratic government stands for, therefore these extremists pose as a bedeviling a challenge to democracies.
For decades, Germany’s inability to accept and deal with extremism that is facing its citizens and residents is why the issue of extremism may never be eradicated completely. These rightwing extremist attacks on refugee centers, hate-filled and racist agitation on social media, and in the rise of political movements is what question the values of the constitution and the country’s level of political participation and indirectly its democracy. A local politician, Henriette Reker, ran for mayor and was almost killed because of her pro-refugee stance. Five years later, Reker was able to run again. However, she is an exception to the many other politicians who have faced threats and attacks from the far-right extremists just because of their political stance. This low level of political participation because of the fear of being killed and attacked has made German cities and towns unable to produce candidates for elections. Two of Germany’s largest states, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia will hold municipal elections this year. But many are struggling to find candidates willing to take up the post of mayor. Not only politicians are being attacked but also German citizens who are politically open about their support for some political ideologies have been targeted for attacks and some killed. The right to freedom of German citizens is being taken away from them because of their freedom conflicts with someone else’s idea of freedom. This is not what a democratic society should be like and not expected from a country regarded as “Full Democracy”.
In conclusion, it is common knowledge that even in a “perfect’ world there are always extremes and there is always an exception to every general rule. Therefore, it is not particularly surprising that extremist groups exist in democracies. However, it is important that we take note and get a better understanding of the impact those extremist groups have on the behavior and positions of the people in the mainstream establishment. It is also important that we pay attention to the impact political extremism has on the health and direction of the country’s democracy. From previous issues of political extremism in Germany, we can note that the consequences of efforts to isolate suppress and dissolve these groups competing in the democratic marketplace be better understood and separated from the impulse to pursue them, as this may end up hurting the democratic system more.