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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Extremist vote worries German press
Demonstrators protest against the far-right NPD
Protests demanded "Nazis out"

The gains made by parties of the extreme right and left in elections in two eastern German states on Sunday spark much negative comment in regional and national papers.

Editorials agree that those voters who bothered to turn out punished high unemployment and Chancellor Schroeder's "Hartz IV" reforms of the labour market.

But one paper sees some hope in that the success of the extreme parties "remained within limits".

When many people vote for right-wing extremists, a great many more for the nostalgia of the [reformed communist] PDS, and yet more for nobody at all, then democracy in the new states, if not shaken to the core, is nevertheless in a lamentable state.

Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Even worse than the success of the [far-right] NPD in Saxony is that of the [far-right] DVU in Brandenburg. This goes against the rule that the far-right may get elected, but not re-elected. The DVU is a virtual party, which only really exists on paper. The vote reveals a shocking amount of disinterest and ignorance.

Berlin's Die Tageszeitung

The hysterical tones of the debate about the Hartz IV reforms benefited the extreme right. But that does not mean that all those who voted for the NPD are neo-Nazis. The prevailing mood - that the mainstream parties cannot be trusted to solve the problems of unemployment - found an outlet in votes for the NPD. Rational arguments had no effect on these frustrated protest voters. But it is only a question of time before the voters come back down to earth.

Dresden's Saechsischer Zeitung

Brandenburg's politicians should overcome their disgust over the next five years and deal with what the DVU actually says. Some might think this gives them more importance than they deserve. But to argue against politicians who propagate racism and right-wing extremism does not mean that one accepts them as equals... For example, it should not be too difficult to show that immigrants in Brandenburg, who number about 2% of the population, cannot be responsible for an unemployment rate of more than 20%.

Potsdam's Maerkische Allgemeine

The vote in Saxony is particularly stark, as the rebuilding of the east is going well there. The NPD went from zero to almost 10% with racist slogans such as "Shut the borders". It is particularly embarrassing that such rubbish strikes a chord in a state which depends on tourism.

Eisenberg's Ostthueringer Zeitung

It is unsettling that urgent appeals from the world of the arts, sport and business were not enough to get more voters to turn out than at the last election. Abstention is a sign of a loss of trust in politics - and it strengthens the extremist parties. The mainstream parties no longer have any influence on the voters' frustrations - the enlargement of the EU, unemployment, or fear of losing one's whole social status.

Leipziger Volkszeitung

After all we have been through with Hartz IV, it should come as no surprise that the PDS came second in both elections... But the reform process should not be abandoned; it is painful but necessary. Hartz must stay.

Schweriner Volkszeitung

It could have been worse... Populists and extremists from left and right achieved success, but it remained within limits - despite the cheap propaganda against national politics in general and the social reforms in particular. That is a source of hope.

Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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