Thursday

5th May 2016

Focus

Controversial author praises German anti-euro party

  • Thilo Sarrazin stays with the Social-Democratic Party despite all criticism (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Thilo Sarrazin is an unusual politician. A member of the German Social Democrats since 1974, he became a household name in 2010 after publishing his best-selling "Deutschland schafft sich ab" (Germany is doing away with itself) - a controversial book about the impact of Muslim migration on his ageing country.

Sarrazin is no fan of political correctness, he prefers the term "virtue terror."

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"I am not incorrect, politically or of any other sort, I am a very correct person," Sarrazin said Monday (24 February) when launching his latest book: "The new virtue terror."

The book is an attack on political correctness and the idea - strongly defended by his own party - that all people are equal.

Whether it is railing against the euro (he wrote an anti-euro book in 2012) or limiting migration to highly educated people, Sarrazin is closer in his ideology to the newly-founded Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), a party that almost made it into the Bundestag and is slated to enter the European Parliament after the 25 May elections.

"The economic competence in the AfD is bigger than in the leadership of the SPD, CDU and CSU combined," Sarrazin said at the press conference.

A former member of the Bundesbank board, his views on the economy and the euro are as hawkish as those of the AfD leadership.

Pressed on the question of joining the new party, Sarrazin said he still feels "at home" in the SPD and that he prefers a party which is not a "single-issue party" like the euro-critical AfD.

But the AfD recently has expanded to other issues, notably "welfare tourism" and migration. At a party congress on 22-23 March, AfD members are set to approve the party's programme for the EU elections. It is on this occasion that the party is likely to formally expand its platform from calling for a break-up of the single currency to other topics.

The success of Sarrazin's book, as well as the unexpected result of the AfD less than a year after it was officially launched, reflect a growing frustration among German voters with the establishment and its discourse on the euro-crisis and migration.

Sensitive to societal shifts, Chancellor Merkel has already fine-tuned her rhetoric and allowed more political room to her Bavarian partners, the CSU, who are now campaigning on abolishing "welfare tourism."

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