Federation of German Industry (BDI) President Siegfried Russwurm speaks during a hybrid press statement following a top-level meeting of the Alliance for the Future of Industry (Buendnis Zukunft der Industrie) at the economy ministry in Berlin, Germany, 22 May 2023. EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN


German Industry chief says AfD ‘is harmful to the future of our country’


The president of the Federation of German Industries says AfD is bad for business.

Siegfried Russwurm has spoken out against the fast-growing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, saying it promotes a “harmful” backward turn.

“Germany thrives on cosmopolitanism and international trade probably more than any other major country in the world,” he told Berliner Morgenpost in an interview on December 19.

“A political movement that calls for a backward turn to nationalism is harmful to this country, to the economy and to Germany’s reputation and success in the global context,” Russwurm said.

“We would do well to clearly oppose the AfD’s statements in public: To say clearly that voting for them is not a harmless protest, but a [vote for a] party that is harmful to the future of our country and of all of us.”

An election victory for the AfD would, according to Russwurm, mean skilled foreign workers would be more difficult to recruit, among other things.

“If you also have to worry about being openly hostile on the street, this is deeply deterrent and cannot be repaired by money and high-quality work,” he warned.

Junge Freiheit noted that Russwurm has connections with the German Socialist Party (SPD) and also appeared as a speaker at the party congress of the Greens.

Interior minister and fellow SDP MP Nancy Faeser had previously urged businesspeople to stay away from the AfD. She cautioned against what she called the “creeping normalisation” of right-wing extremist and populist views.

Russwurm said he applauded those in the German business community who had already positioned themselves against the AfD. “It’s not a question of voting for one or the other Democratic party. Rather, the AfD is about the question of keeping damage away from our country and opening people’s eyes to it.

“I am happy about every colleague from the companies who make this very clear.”

Germany is struggling economically, with industrial production nosediving. High energy prices and inflation are also driving domestic companies abroad.

The parlous state of the economy is reportedly part of the reason the AfD is soaring in the polls. Against that, many industry leaders recoil from the party, saying it is made up of “far-right extremists”.

Despite the strong warnings including from the church and all other political parties, AfD keeps growing in public popularity. It is projected to take state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg.

On December 18, the AfD won its first mayoral election, with Tim Lochner becoming Mayor of Pirna in Saxony.