Germans are becoming increasingly sceptical of mass immigration, with large numbers refusing to approve of their country accepting refugees and a record number putting national identity before being “global citizens”.
According to a survey by GlobeScan for BBC World Service, a record number now define their primary identity as “German”, with only a minority approving of immigration from other countries.
When asked whether they agree with the statement “I see myself more as a global citizen than a citizen of Germany”, only a total of 30 per cent agreed, and of those only 4 per cent strongly agreed. In contrast 57 per cent disagreed, of whom 18 per cent disagreed strongly.
GlobeScan has asked the question eight times since 2001, and this is lowest level of agreement ever recorded. In 2002, over 60 per cent said they felt more like “global citizens” than citizens of Germany, but that figure has since dropped by more than half.
A curiously large number of people also decline to give opinions on immigration, inter-racial marriages and accepting refugees, suggesting a trend away from supporting these things but a lingering refusal to openly oppose them.
For example, only 34 per cent of Germans approve of mixed-race marriages, with an unusually high 46 per cent refusing to give an opinion and 20 per cent disapproving. The percentage not answering the question is far higher than in any other country. The next highest, Russia, is just 15 per cent.
On the topic of immigration from other countries, German respondents were also unusually coy, with 44 per cent refusing to give an opinion. Another 36 per cent disapprove of immigration, while just 27 per cent approve of it.
Fewer than half also support taking refugees fleeing conflicts in other countries, although just over half support taking refugees specifically from Syria.
Over a million migrants came to Germany last year after Chancellor Angela opened the borders to them. The decision has led to numerous social tensions and the rise of the anti-mass immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
New Year’s Eve also witnessed mass sex assaults by mainly North African migrants in various German cities, most notably Cologne. As of February, police had received over 1,000 complaints from the evening with victims reporting sexual assault and theft.
The response from authorities largely served to make the resentment worse, with the mainstream media initially refusing to report the story for several days while Cologne mayor Henriette Reker told women in the city to be more careful in the future.
“The women and young girls have to be more protected in the future so these things don’t happen again,” she said.
“This means, they should go out and have fun, but they need to be better prepared, especially with the Cologne carnival coming up. For this, we will publish online guidelines that these young women can read through to prepare themselves”.