A former member of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats has formed a party to attract voters enthralled by Thilo Sarrazin and disappointed by Germany’s existing parties. Berlin politician René Stadtkewitz’s new Freedom Party aims to leverage fear of Islam for political ends.
For Stadtkewitz the debate that broke out after Thilo Sarrazin, the former member of the board of the German Central Bank, published a book claiming that Muslims would soon outnumber ethnic Germans and that they were dumbing down the country, went something like this: After reading Sarrazin’s book, shortly after it was published, Stadtkewitz realized that he liked what he was reading. He felt validated and encouraged.
In a poll commissioned by the left-leaning newspaper Berliner Zeitung, 24 percent of Berlin residents stated that they could imagine voting for a “party directed against Islam.” And a survey conducted by the Emnid opinion research firm concluded that 18 percent of Germans would vote for a Sarrazin party. A Sarrazin party doesn’t even exist. But now there is one lead by René Stadtkewitz, a small business owner from Berlin’s Karow district.
The governor of the German Central Bank, Axel Weber, has been attempting a damage limitation exercise after remarks by Thilo Sarrazin about the country’s 2.5 million-strong Turkish minority provoked popular anger.
Last week Mr. Sarrazin, who was recently appointed to the central bank’s board, told cultural magazine Lettre International that Turks, who are three per cent of the country’s population, contributed little to the German economy and were a threat due to their high birth rate.
“Turks are conquering Germany…with a strong birth rate,” Sarrazin was quoted as saying. “I would be happy if it were a question of eastern European Jews whose intelligence is 15 per cent greater than the German population. I do not want groups within the population that do not accept the duty of integration, and on top of that it costs a lot more money.”
Speaking of the German capital, Berlin, Sarrazin added: “A large number of Arabs and Turks in this city, the number of whom has grown owing to poor policies, have no productive function aside from selling fruit and vegetables. Figures provided by the Turkish-German Chamber of Commerce indicated that the number of companies founded in Germany by Turkish citizens or Germans with a Turkish background has risen to 65,000, employing around 320,000, over the past two decades.