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Germany ـ “Deeply concerned” about the rise of far-right politics in the country
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Feb 9, 2024 | studies

European Observatory to Combat Radicalization – EOCR

Deutsche Börse chief ‘deeply concerned’ about rise of German far right

ft – The head of the German stock exchange has said he is “deeply concerned” about the rise of far-right politics in the country, warning that it threatens the future of EU markets. “If they were successful that would be fatal, not only for our democracies but also for Germany and Europe as key financial centres,” Theodor Weimer, chief executive of Deutsche Börse Group, said on Thursday. The far-right Alternative for Germany party last month told the Financial Times that it saw Brexit as a model and, if elected, would hold a referendum on membership of the EU.

Alice Weidel, leader of the AfD, also said her government would seek to curb the power of the European Commission. “It’s very important to protect our foundation, we have to strengthen and deepen capital market union, that’s a must,” Weimer said, sounding alarm over the rising tide of populism in Europe, without naming specific parties. “We must not and we cannot relent on this.” His comments underscore mounting worries about the threat that extremist parties pose in Europe, in a year of crucial elections.

France’s far-right Rassemblement National party is expected to beat French President Emmanuel Macron’s party in European parliamentary elections this year, riding a wave of support for its anti-immigration stance.  “We cannot give credence to the demands made by extremists,” Weimer said, adding: “Our job is also to defend freedom and democracy, this also applies to businesspeople

.” The AfD has experienced a big surge in the polls in recent months, reflecting mounting anger at high levels of illegal immigration and Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s handling of the economy. Some surveys have put it ahead of all three parties in Scholz’s coalition government — the Social Democrats, Greens and liberals. However, the party was hit by revelations last month that some of its functionaries had met extreme right-wing radicals to discuss plans to deport millions of people with immigrant backgrounds from Germany, including those with German passports.

In the wake of the revelations, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in towns and cities across Germany to protest against the far right’s rise. Figures in government and business have increasingly been warning of the threat the AfD poses to the German economy.

Scholz slammed the AfD’s plans for a UK-style exit of the EU, saying it would be the “biggest destroyer of wealth” in Germany. Siegfried Russwurm, head of the BDI, the main German business lobby, said last month that Germany was the main beneficiary of international trade, co-operation and European integration. “The fact that there’s a strong political party gaining ground that questions all of that is economically dangerous,” he told reporters.

“I don’t want to live in a country where, whether you’re welcome here or not depends on where your grandparents were born,” he said. “We can’t afford that as a society, beyond all economic considerations.” Weimer said: “The [AfD is] becoming ever more popular, getting more and more support and I think it’s important for all of us to say that these are fringe groups,” adding:

“We have to make sure this does not get out of hand.” Weimer, who has led Deutsche Börse since 2018, was speaking as the group reported net revenues of €5bn in 2023, a 17 per cent rise compared with the previous year. Deutsche Börse Group runs businesses including the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Eurex clearing house and last year bought Danish fund management company SimCorp.


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