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Visitors walk through an underpass in the Bundestag (symbolic image)

Photo: Christoph Soeder / dpa

Citizens' confidence in the state's ability to act is worse than ever before. This is shown by a new survey commissioned by the German Civil Servants Association (dbb). The figures also show rifts in society.

In the Forsa survey, only 27 percent of respondents considered the state to be capable of fulfilling its tasks, for example in education, refugee or climate policy. That was two percentage points less than last year. 69 percent saw him as overwhelmed – a year ago it was 66 percent. As a result, confidence in the state's ability to act has "sunk to a new low," said dbb national chairman Ulrich Silberbach. This is "alarming".

As in the previous year, most respondents cited maintaining social justice in society as the most important task of the state. Investments for climate protection, such as the expansion of renewable energies, were cited by significantly fewer citizens (minus seven percent) as a very important task this time.

In the West, climate protection, migration issues and support for Ukraine are cited as priorities. In the east, according to the trade union, in the eyes of the people, these are more likely to be the relief of the population from the consequences of inflation, social balance and harmonization of living conditions in urban and rural areas.

Silberbach was concerned overall. "Particularly worrying" is "the increasingly apparent division of society," said the dbb boss on the results of the survey. The rifts between East and West, rich and poor, depending on educational attainment, are deepening, and social stress levels are rising," Silberbach added.

According to the survey, 80 percent of those surveyed state a "general brutalization of society". In this context, Silberbach also warned against increasing aggressiveness towards public sector employees, while the police union (GdP) also complained about increasing general aggressiveness and also called for investments in the safety of police officers.

Differences depending on party affiliation

The reputation of the state is particularly bad in East Germany. There, 77 percent of respondents were convinced that he was overwhelmed with regard to his tasks and the existing problems – in the West it was 68 percent. AfD supporters have the worst opinion. Of these, only 6 percent see the state in a position to fulfill its tasks. According to the survey, 22 percent of supporters of the CDU and CSU are 34 percent, while supporters of the FDP are 46 percent, the SPD 52 percent and the Greens <> percent.

There has been a significant change in the question of which areas the state is overwhelmed. While in 2022 – shortly after the start of the Ukraine war – energy supply was at the top of the list with 17 percent, it is now asylum and refugee policy with 26 percent. According to the report, the energy supply is only 7 percent. School and education policy (19 percent) and climate and environmental protection (17 percent) were also mentioned very often.

A very strong divergence can be observed in the views of the supporters of the Greens and the AfD. "That scares me that we have such a strong, extreme polarization," said Forsa boss Manfred Güllner. For example, the expansion of renewable energies plays virtually no role for AfD supporters (11 percent), but for Green supporters it is the most important thing (88 percent).

Firefighters are held in high esteem

As in previous years, firefighters (94 percent agreement) are at the top of the list when it comes to the reputation of individual occupational groups, followed by nurses, doctors and geriatric nurses. Civil servants (32 percent) and journalists (31 percent) rank in the lower midfield. Politicians have 14 percent approval. At the bottom are employees in advertising agencies and insurance agents (8 percent each).