Germany’s Orwellian Draft Bill for Promoting Democracy

The German government has proposed a special bill designed to open the door to massive state funding of activities targeting so-called “enemies of democracy”. More specifically, it would increase funds for the “Living Democracy” program (Demokratie Leben) of the Ministry for Family Affairs to some €200 million annually, to be allocated to NGOs involved in promoting initiatives in schools and neighborhood communities against racism, discrimination, etc. The range of activities financed under this program is already very broad, as it targets those who criticize gender policies or propagate extreme right-wing views, and it has mainly benefited NGOs in leftist and green milieus.

The government hopes to get the bill passed by the Bundestag before the summer break, but it has come under massive criticism not only from the opposition (Christian Democrats and Alternative for Germany), but also from one of the government coalition partners, the Free Democrats. Indeed, the vice chairman of the latter, Wolfgang Kubicki, is among the fiercest critics of the text. He stated that “there will be no so-called democracy promotion law that provides for institutional funding of associations and organizations that call themselves so-called non-governmental organizations… The democratic constitutional state does not have the task of ensuring social diversity. Anyone who thinks they can decide on social diversity with the help of a law does not have the protection of democracy in mind, but their own power politics.”

The exact content of the new measures is not known, but domestic security service head Thomas Haldenwang said that more attention will be given to “violence-prone language,” hinting at possible persecution of free speech. In a classic example of the Orwellian approach, it looks like an attempt to promote democracy by outlawing an open debate of ideas and silencing the opposition.

Faced with massive criticism, the German government will likely try to push through the draft bill by surfing on the wave of the large demonstrations urging action “against the right” that have been organized in the past weeks in German cities by a coalition of Greens, leftists, churches and labor unions.

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