« Dr Everhard Holtmann, Professor at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, and Carsten Schneider, Federal Government Commissioner for East Germany, shared the results of the German Unity annual report during a press conference on Wednesday in Berlin and pointed out the shortening of the economic gap between East and West Germany ahead of the 33rd anniversary of the country’s reunification.
« There was no topic that people came to me with more often than complaints about pensions and especially the East-West differences. In 2023; they no longer exist, and the reason they are no longer there is because wages have increased. A political decision to at least increase the pension and not to make an east-west difference has also led to an improved labour market situation but also improved or equalized pensions, » Schneider explained.
He continued by saying that investments in East Germany were extremely important, particularly in the area of microelectronics, and declared that Dresden and Magdeburg, two cities located on the east side of the country, are becoming the centres of the semiconductor industry for all of Europe.
Holtmann pointed out the lack of affordable housing, the shortage of skilled workers in West Germany, and the emigration of young people from East Germany as the main challenges discovered following the report’s release and stressed the occurrence of an increasing contrast between rich and poor.
When asked if there is more sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime in East Germany than in West Germany, Schneider said that the East part of the country had a different experience with the Soviet Union, and, according to him, there is also a shared fear among the population there.
« But I don’t know anyone, and to say it clearly, no one who approves of the war or Russia’s attack on Ukraine, no one. And there is also a very high level of solidarity—at least there has been so far—with Ukrainian refugees, especially women, » he added.
Holtmann also said that the Alternative for Germany (AfD) has started to find support among the younger generations and said that parties that establish themselves as anti-establishment fill in a place of necessity left by the others.
“And that possibly also explains that those who have had success as AfD candidates in East Germany in the last few months, if I see it correctly, have also recently had local roots and political activities. So, this is not a complete explanation, but it is segments that can explain the current sympathy for the AFD, » he declared.
According to local media reports, recent polls show that if federal elections were held this week, AfD would be leading the polls in three eastern states with more than 30 per cent. »