Enlarge image

Hildegard Müller, President of the VDA Automobile Association: “This is not just a threat to our democracy”

Photo: Sven Hoppe / dpa

The president of the automobile association VDA, Hildegard Müller, calls on all German companies to take a stand against right-wing extremism and to stand up for democracy and the rule of law.

“We have to take a stand,” she tells the “Rheinische Post”.

Protests are increasingly being directed against the political and social system - which is also economically damaging.

"This is not just a threat to our democracy, it is a threat to our location." This is important for investors and foreign skilled workers - they "have to like living in our country."

Other business associations have also taken a stand against right-wing extremism and racism against the backdrop of the AfD's rise in strength.

However, they emphasize purely economic arguments in their statements.

“They will only come to us if committed people from all over the world feel comfortable with us,” says the President of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) Peter Adrian to the newspaper.

This is the only way they are attractive as a place to work and live, he adds.

A welcoming culture is necessary in Germany

Adrian also criticizes statements by AfD leader Alice Weidel, who described Great Britain's exit from the European Union as a "model for Germany."

"Specifically, the rejection of open markets, be it a policy against the EU internal market or against trade agreements, hinders our economic development," he says.

Companies are increasingly dependent on skilled workers and workers from abroad, which is why a welcoming culture is necessary in Germany.

Crafts President Jörg Dittrich is calling on the federal government to adopt a more consistent location policy.

“Many of the companies and employees have the feeling that they are not acting politically decisively enough to strengthen the location,” says the President of the Central Association of German Crafts (ZDH) to the “Rheinische Post”.

“What counts for us is not where someone comes from,” he continued, “but what you want to do for this country and how you can move it forward.”

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) also encourages the associations to take a stronger and louder position.

He says to the “Rheinische Post”: “Right-wing extremism and racism threaten liberal democracy and are also increasingly a risk to the economy and prosperity.”