Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Pegida: a German Right-Wing Anti-Foreigner Populism Emerges

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Deutschland PEGIDA Demonstration in Dresden

10,000 – 15,000 people  marched on Monday the 15th of December  through the eastern German city of Dresden in an anti-Islamisation demonstration.

The march was the largest yet for the far-right populist PEGIDA movement.

This demonstration and its background were given great prominence in le Monde yesterday (En Allemagne, le discours raciste se banalise). Le Monde emphasised how the numbers attending weekly marches have grown and grown.

The media had not brought up the eternal ‘German neo-Nazism’ hook but the result of the emergence of a growing anti-immigrant/migrant movement in the Germany, a country that has hitherto been immune to the appeal of UKIP/Front National politics. In other words xenophobia knows no European political borders.

The first signs of these developments was in the rise of  Alternative für Deutschland.

“Alternative for Germany received 4.7% of the vote in the September 2013 federal election, narrowly failing the 5% threshold for representation.The party won 7 of Germany’s 96 seats for the European Parliament in the 2014 European election, and joined the European Conservatives and Reformists group in June 2014. The party exceeded forecasts in gaining its first representation in state parliament elections in Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia during 2014.”

The party is anti-Euro and against any transfer of sovereignty to the European Union. Its anti-immigration policies, and its ‘socially conservative’ (that is, reactionary) social stand, marks it even more firmly on the hard right.

Commentators (including Le Monde) observe an “overlap” between the AfD and PEGIDA,

 Der Speigel is one of many media outlets to cover the story  including those in the UK (Guardian)

15,000 march in anti-Islamisation PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) demonstrations in Dresden.

A record number of demonstrators turned out on Monday to march in support of the far-right populist PEGIDA group. The name loosely translates to “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West.”

“The people are with us!,” the group’s founder Lutz Bachmann shouted at the crowd. Monday’s turnout was 50 percent greater than that of a week ago. The rallies started in October in response to clashes between Kurds and Sunni Muslims over the West’s intervention in Syria.

But the nationalist group has largely been protesting over the immigration system in Germany, which has become Europe’s number one destination for asylum seekers – whose lands of origin include Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as several African and Balkan nations.

The emergence of the movement has stunned politicians, one of whom – Ralf Jäger, the Social Democratic (SPD) interior minister for North Rhine Westphalia state – described PEGIDA’s members as “neo-Nazis in pinstripes.” While some neo-Nazis have been seen among the crowds, those gathered have mostly been disenchanted citizens.

More than 1,200 police kept a close watch on the non-violent crowds. Nearby, about 6,000 counter-protesters – made up of civic, political and church groups – marched under the banners “Dresden Nazi-free” and “Dresden for All.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the wave of PEGIDA marches and cautioned Germans against falling prey to xenophobic “rabble rousing.”

An associated right-wing BOGIDA protest took place in the western city of Bonn on Monday. While approximately 300 of the group’s supporters turned up, they were met by 2,000 counter demonstrators who called for peace and tolerance.

Der Spiegel.

Taz carries more details about Pegida’s opponents whose counter-demo moblised 5.500.

Reaktionäre Verrohung Europas!

The report by Michael Bartsch says that in response one marcher said that the threat was not the Islamisation of the West, but that of a reactionary and barbaric continent ( „Es droht nicht eine Islamisierung des Abendlandes, sondern eine reaktionäre Verrohung Europas!“) He notes however that this alliance against Pegida is “fragile” – it is composed of many very diverse groups, from the ‘anti-dogmatic’ far left, migrant and asylum groups, human rights organisations, religious bodies, to the established parties. The first group, prominent over years of anti-fascist activism, cannot easily co-operate with the later, particularly the governing CDU one of whose representatives, Martin Gillo, turned up at the end of their march.

British Conservatives.

This (from Wikipedia) relating to  the way the Tories have reacted to the rise of AfD is interesting:

During David Cameron‘s prime ministerial visit to Germany in April 2013, the British Conservative Party is reported to have contacted both Alternative for Germany and the Free Voters to discuss the possibility of cooperation, which was supported by the European Conservatives and Reformists group of the European Parliament.

In June 2013, Bernd Lucke gave a well attended question and answer session organised by the Conservative allied Bruges Group think tank in Portcullis House, London.

ConservativeHome, a British political website, viewed the AfD’s policies as, “wholly unremarkable,” in response to the AfD’s more cautious reception among the German public. The website also voiced the opinion that the party shouldn’t be compared to the UK Independence Party which calls for a British exit from the EU. According to the conservative grassroots site the AfD’s policies are much closer to those of the British Conservatives, who also reject the euro and wish to implement reform of the EU.

The Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan was speculated to have been advocating for the British Conservatives and AfD to link following the 2014 EU elections via the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists with possible membership in the EU parliament grouping European Conservatives and Reformists, which was formed after the Conservatives withdrew from the European Democrats sub group of the European People’s Party, to which Angela Merkel’s CDU belong.

Some British Conservatives such as Timothy Kirkhope were more reluctant to be seen as too openly courting the AfD, should it damage relations with Angela Merkel’s CDU, which they speculated could hinder attempts by the Conservative Party to renegotiate treaties before a proposed referendum on British EU membership in 2017. Hans-Olaf Henkel stated that the AfD had heard rumours that Angela Merkel had told David Cameron to keep his distance from the party during the run-up to the 2014 European Election.

Response from the political journalist Andrew Gimson writing at ConservativeHome was broadly positive about the possibility of the Conservatives working with AfD. Paul Goodman, editor of ConservativeHome has also been welcoming towards cooperation with AfD, playing down the risks that cooperation would affect the relationship between David Cameron and Angela Merkel.

Before the European Election Bernd Lucke had been in talks with the Czech and Polish parties of ECR, but acknowledged the concerns the British Conservatives had about the admission of the AfD into the group.


14 Responses

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  1. It is worth pointing out though that last week’s demo in Dresden of about 10,000 was challenged by a counter-demo from the antifa/left (“against racism and religious fundamentalism”) of the same size. This week there wasn’t, as far as I know, a major counter mobilisation.

    Pegida and all the other -gidas, a fair few of them in places with hardly any non-white or non-German (2% of the population of Saxony is non-German, for example, 0.4% are muslim of any kind) presence, don’t like talking to the “mainstream media”. They don’t mind talking to Russia Today though. At least they thought they were talking to “RT Deutsch”, it was actually the German copy of “The Daily Show”; ZDF’s “heute show”…

    in particular: http://youtu.be/9EZA293UFZw?t=4m31s


    December 18, 2014 at 10:04 pm

  2. Not to forget two (at the time not yet occupied) refugee homes having been set on fire last week, and various demonstrations, organised by but far from exclusively attended by neo-nazis, against current or future refugee homes/accommodation, e.g. in a few parts of Berlin, organised, as a rule, weekly and where the ‘left’ or counter-demonstrations are hopelessly outnumbered by the far right, who are generally allowed to march by the police.


    December 18, 2014 at 10:12 pm

  3. […] Source: Pegida: a German Right-Wing Anti-Foreigner Populism Emerges […]

  4. A useful reminder to British admirers of RT.

    Andrew Coates

    December 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm

  5. My point exactly, Tendance.

    RT Deutsch has just begun, initally online-only but with a daily programme, basically a German language version of that terrible ‘Breaking the set’ (whose presenter hasn’t gone to Ukraine yet). It seems to be very popular amongst a certain kind(s) of “activist”: the conspiracy-theorists, the Stalinists, the far-right and where all three meet in liking Putin a great deal; this is the “querfront” of “far-left” and far-right (often ex-far lefts), along with the likes of Thilo Sarrazin (SPD), Eva Hermann (ex-main news reader who seems to be on the far-right and was sacked after she started voicing her own opinions, getting confused about what her role as a newsreader was), and a certain kind of Die Linke-activist from the west (doing the presenting and ‘journalism’).

    This must be quite confusing for “genuine Stalinists” from the likes of the Junge Welt who don’t seem to know what yet to think about all this – one of their journalists, an ex-NATO spy in the west, appeared on the second day’s programme yet the write up was fairly negative (with the bizarre tip for RT Deutsch to become proper journalists ‘like RT in Britain or RT America’), since then as far as I know the JW has failed to pick up on RT’s use of rightwing nutjobs and its obvious (online) popularity amongst the AfD and worse. That would mean they might have to reassess their line on Putin, obviously.

    The “Voice of Russia” (now renamed “Sputnik”, but not in Germany, yet, due to the slight problem of their being an ARD youth station having the same name, since 1992 or so) has gone down the RT road as well – I read that all the English language service’s staff, some of whom did a fairly reasonable job for a long time, and many cut-glass and now quite old British native speakers, presumably ex-CPers?, were all sacked overnight; the German service, produced mainly by Russians in Moscow, has gone downhill overnight, with an hour or two produced by real Germans and journalists in Berlin, but extremely tabloid-like. Not quite sure who they’re trying to appeal to, though they are trying to get licences to broadcast in DAB (not that anyone in Germany has a reciever) across the country (which won’t work as state organisations aren’t allowed to get licences. In Berlin they have a frontman ‘acting on behalf of company X acting on behalf of the Russian state broadcaster’, presumably now on behalf of Russia Today/Novosti), but for a totally different kind of station without – in the terms of the licence – any official links to the Voice of Russia. A strange business.


    December 20, 2014 at 3:24 am

  6. It’s exactly the same audience here: I’ve lost count of the number of people from the background you cite who’re glued to Russia Today.

    They also broadcast Stop the War Coalition and Counterfire (German and Rees that is)

    They present Chris Bambery, as “political analyst”: (ex-SWP now International Socialist Group in Scotland, who back bourgeois nationalist politics).

    “The UK, French and German governments are faced with critics from the right-wing anti-immigrant parties, so it’s a good time for them to demand stricter border controls to stop possible jihadi militants from coming,political analyst Chris Bambery told RT.”


    Left Unity spokesperson Peter Green also pops up:


    Andrew Coates

    December 20, 2014 at 12:03 pm

  7. I know, but there are more of them over here I reckon. And they are more visible. It’s the brown-red channel. But the media *are* on many things very one-sided in Germany, the influence of politicans on ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio isn’t hidden at all. Television channels don’t have to attempt to provide a fake-stopwatched “balance” like in the UK (which is good, in a way: no anti-scientists on every news programme to argue that the flu or ebola doesn’t exist, etc.), and re Ukraine the reporting was clearly extremely biased, for which the ARD and ZDF have since (in part) apologised.

    The “Lügenpresse” (“press of lies”), in this case the ARD (German public service broadcaster)/North German Broadcasting NDR, sent their reporters to Dresden last week. The uncut 90 minutes of interviews they conducted with demonstrators – who interestingly, a bit like Ukip, sometimes say “I’m not a racist, I’m not against foreigners”, and probably a bit unlike Ukip say “We’ve got nothing against refugees fleeing war” – always though with a big “but…” – are online on youtube, to counter the argument they deliberately edited them down to the 10 minutes they broadcast to make all the demonstrators look like nazis and/or idiots/conspiracy theorists.

    Interesting is also, at one point, the banner “Peace with Russia! Never again war in Europe!”.
    Presumably the Saxon Association for German-Soviet Friendship turned up.


    December 20, 2014 at 6:59 pm

  8. I admit it – I watch RT from time to time and often quite enjoy it. Some of its more stupid viewers may well swallow its line wholesale, but it is quite possible to watch it using the same critical intelligence that you use watching any other channel. In one respect it is the mirror image of those Western TV channels which would bring on “dissidents” in order to discuss any story related to Russia or the USSR – it gives a platform to all sorts of Western dissidents, left and right, sane and mad. This often makes it quite entertaining – something the old-style Soviet propaganda vehicles like Radio Moscow never managed. It tackles some stories in some depth, which can be a refreshing antidote to soundbite TV. And it sometimes has some serious people commenting on there.

    For us Russia-watchers, it’s an excellent resource for getting the Kremlin view of the world, but its coverage of domestic Russian news is pretty hopeless. We have to go elsewhere for that.


    December 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

  9. Hello Francis, I’m not sure if RT is about broadcasting “the Kremlin view of the world” at all, in the way that Radio Moscow used to do, or the Voice of America presumably still does (the White House’s view, obviously).

    If that was the case it would be more worrying, as therefore John Rees, Galloway etc., along with the various anti-semites and tinfoil hat-wearing consipiracy theorists given ‘providence’ on RT as “experts”, the same people who used to appear on Iran’s Press TV, would represent Russian policy, which they obviously don’t. RT wouldn’t be insisting so much that they are about ‘freedom of the press’ and giving ‘the voiceless a voice’ and claiming that is the reason they allow so many… hm, illinformed crazies with a not very well hidden agenda to spout their trash without any kind of counter-argument.

    I suspect that RT, and Sputnik/Voice of Russia is more an attempt to sow confusion within and to split ‘opposition’ movements in western countries, while, admittedly, at the same time, pushing a Kremlin line. Those who do not share the Moscow line are ‘exposed’ as being ‘western agents’, ‘imperialists’, ‘not really oppositionalists’, possibly even ‘fascists’ and the coverage of this is, I would imagine, intended to be used to attempt to push these people out of the respective movements or political parties.

    In particular, when I see RT Deutsch using conspiracy theorists who are basically known by nobody (“analists” who you can find very little about via Google, apart from some pretty nasty, yet pretty old stuff) to lecture viewers on “why the Antifa are not really against fascism because RT were forced out of an antifa demo” (and RT Deutsch admitted the real reason by broadcasting a brief scuffle: as RT Deutsch, even though it has existed for only 3 weeks, has already used a well-known anti-semitic conspiracy theorist and former ARD broadcaster to ‘explain’ who PEGIDA are) and how these “antigermans are infiltrating Die Linke” – I can’t imagine what other purpose this is meant to serve apart from to split movements.

    And this isn’t about RT Deutsch having time to fill and not being able to find anyone else, they only produce 30 minutes per day – one single programme – at the moment.

    Why hasn’t David Icke been given a programme on RT Britain yet? They can describe him as “Former Green Party leader and ex-BBC journalist”. I might write and ask.


    December 21, 2014 at 5:03 pm

  10. Dagmar – you risk falling victim to conspiracy theory yourself. I can see no reason why RT would want to split Western opposition movements (as if they weren’t perfectly capable of doing that themselves). I can, however, see lots of reasons why the Russian state would like to see the Western EU/NATO etablishment split. That is presumably why RT likes to give prominence to any dissidents who give an alternative view to the establishment Euroconsensus – whether their dissent is on the left or on the right (or even on the moon) is of little concern to them. I cannot think of any concrete case of a left-wing opposition movement in Britain being split over acceptance or rejection of the RT line. If that ever were to happen, that would almost certainly be the result not of perfidious RT machinations, but of incurable left-wing stupidity.


    December 21, 2014 at 6:11 pm

  11. As if there isn’t “incurable left-wing stupidity” about anyway, Francis 🙂

    The USSR wanted ideological hegemony over the ‘peace movement’ in the west and spent loads of money and other resources attempting to get this – ‘soft power’ if not direct control; when I see what RT Deutsch is doing, it’s like a media version of what the old DKP might have done in West Germany in the 1980s. Or the Sparts used to do. Turn up, cause trouble, smash it up. But with different means.

    Whatever RT is, I can’t see that RT is only about pushing the Kremlin line. They’d have to be a lot more reactionary on social issues for a start.

    This Guardian article amused me a bit:
    especially this sentence:

    “In December, all (RT) London staff are rewarded with double pay in an initiative known internally as “the 13th month”’

    Yeah, sinister stuff.
    Standard fayre in German workplaces (though my “13th month” is paid out in two halves: half in August, and half in November, to help fund a summer holiday as well as Xmas), and in many countries on the continent.

    In Britain it used to be called “the Christmas bonus”, I believe.


    December 21, 2014 at 11:02 pm

  12. 13th month is standard French wage bonus – even (some of) the unemployed get one at Christmas (subject to the highly complex system of benefits they have): “prime de noël”.


    Re RT: the programme I dislike the most (even more than Galloway and that former male model John Wight of Socialist Unity) is the Keiser Report.

    He is a ‘wise guy’ giving the ‘low down’ – the smirking Stacy Herbert doesn’t help either.

    Andrew Coates

    December 22, 2014 at 1:04 pm

  13. Max Keiser is mainly a comedy turn. Just occasionally he has a sensible economist on his show in the second half (I first heard the excellent Yanis Varoufakis on the KR). But MK’s own politics are right-wing libertarian, which gets him in some strange positions: he blasts the “banksters” for their dependence on state handouts, and the stock markets for running a Ponzi scheme (all well and good), but then he has to boost Bitcoin (not run by the “banksters”, see), which has to be the purest and most transparent Ponzi scheme going. So long as you don’t rely on MK for your economic forecasting or investment advice, he’s probably harmless.


    December 22, 2014 at 2:53 pm

  14. This is in the Guardian today (obviously they were tipped off by this discussion…..),

    “The BBC World Service is being financially outgunned by Russian and Chinese state-owned news channels, its former director Peter Horrocks has warned, amid high-level concerns that Britain and the US are losing a global “information war” with the Kremlin.

    Horrocks said ministers should review Britain’s spending overseas and consider freeing up extra World Service funding to combat the wave of Moscow-backed propaganda sweeping Europe.

    “Medium to long term there has to be an anxiety about the spending of others compared to what the BBC are putting into it,” Horrocks said. “You can take a view of the overall national interest and things we spend on international influence, like military spending. When you look at that it would take it in a certain direction.”

    International alarm over the rise of Kremlin-funded news, led by 24-hour news channel Russia Today, has intensified following Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine and his feud with the west.”


    Andrew Coates

    December 22, 2014 at 5:37 pm

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