- 25.06.2024 - 11:00 

Willing, but hesitant: A Study on the positions of chambers in Germany on right-wing extremism

In collaboration with TU Dresden, the authors surveyed the Chambers of Industry and Commerce and Chambers of Crafts in Germany about their position on right-wing extremism. The result: the chambers' reluctance can be explained by an imposed neutrality requirement that calls for a critical evaluation in the context of taking a stance for freedom and democracy.

Collaborative study by the University of St. Gallen and TU Dresden.

The rise of right-wing populist and far-right movements has significant consequences for Germany and Europe as a business location. The Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) and the Chambers of Crafts are concerned about this development, as their members are threatened with considerable competitive disadvantages due to anti-European, protectionist and socio-political reactionary tendencies.

"Despite these negative effects, many chambers are reluctant to take a clear stance against right-wing extremism and right-wing populism and in favor of democracy, cosmopolitanism and diversity," explains Prof. Markus Scholz from TU Dresden.

To get to the bottom of this reluctance, Thomas Beschorner and Andreas Hermann from the University of St. Gallen, together with their colleagues from Dresden, surveyed a total of 79 Chambers of Industry and Commerce and 53 Chambers of Crafts in Germany on the topic of right-wing extremism as part of a nationwide study.

The comprehensive survey revealed that one possible reason for the chambers' reticence is their political neutrality requirement, which sets strict limits on political statements beyond economic issues. "The requirement of political neutrality, which I fully understand, should not extend to remaining silent in the face of attacks on democracy and the rule of law," says Prof. Andreas Hermann.

In their recommendations for action derived from the study, the authors therefore suggest examining the regulatory conditions of the chambers. In a legal opinion, the authors suggest that the possibilities and limits of political neutrality in the case of a commitment to a free and democratic basic order could be examined in more detail.

"The question is under what conditions chambers are legitimized to take a stance for freedom and democracy. What forms of statements and measures are permissible from a legal perspective," explains Prof. Thomas Beschorner. "From our point of view, a corresponding legal classification would be of central importance in order to provide the chambers with opportunities for a commitment to the basic democratic order."

The study "Willing, but hesitant. An empirical study on the positions of chambers in Germany on the subject of right-wing extremism"

Prof. Thomas Beschorner (main contact person and project manager)
Institute for Business Ethics / University of St. Gallen
Phone: +41 (0) 71 224 3143
E-mail: thomas.beschornerunisg.ch

Prof. Markus Scholz
Chair of Business Administration, in particular Responsible Management
IHI Zittau / TU Dresden
Phone: +49 3583 612-4178
E-mail: markus.scholz1tu-dresden.de