Firms warn Ger­man em­ploy­ees on pop­ulism be­fore state votes

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Business -

MU­NICH- based Ger­man air­craft en­gine maker MTU Aero En­gines has warned its em­ploy­ees against pop­ulism be­fore a re­gional elec­tion in Bavaria, and con­sul­tants EY have is­sued their lo­cal staff with sim­i­lar guid­ance. Though nei­ther com­pany men­tioned the anti-im­mi­gra­tion Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD) in their in­ter­nal mem­o­randa, the mes­sages high­light cor­po­rate con­cerns about the rise of the far-right and per­ceived threats to Ger­man po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity.

The AfD, which has cam­paigned in Bavaria with the slo­gan “our state, our home­land”, is poised to surge into the re­gional assem­bly in Bavaria for the first time af­ter Sun­day’s vote.

MTU told em­ploy­ees in a let­ter: “Pop­ulist slo­gans don’t take our coun­try for- ward, but rather tar­geted govern­ment ac­tion on the ba­sis of our core val­ues.”

“Ger­many, and es­pe­cially a strate­gi­cally-ori­en­tated in­dus­try like ours, re­lies on sta­ble po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions,” MTU direc­tors added in the let­ter, which was posted on the com­pany’s in­tranet and a copy of which was seen by Reuters. The direc­tors stressed they were not ad­vis­ing their em­ploy­ees which party to back, but urged them to vote “re­spon­si­bly”. Around half of MTU’s 10,000 work­ers are based in Bavaria.

The AfD has es­tab­lished it­self across Ger­many with anti-Is­lamic rhetoric and at­tacks on Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s mi­grant pol­icy. This is a par­tic­u­larly hot topic in Bavaria, where most of the 1.5 mil­lion asy­lum seek­ers who have reached Ger­many in the past three years en­tered the coun­try. The AfD’s rise has eroded sup­port for Merkel’s al­lies in Bavaria, the Chris­tian So­cial Union (CSU), who are set to lose the ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity with which they have con­trolled the south­ern state for most of the post-war pe­riod.

In Bavaria, sup­port for the AfD - with whom the CSU has ruled out an al­liance - stands at 10-14 per­cent, sur­veys show. Af­ter the Bavar­ian vote, the AfD is set to have seats in 15 of Ger­many’s 16 state as­sem­blies and it is likely to en­ter the re­main­ing one, Hesse, af­ter a state elec­tion there on Oct. 28.

In an email sent to em­ploy­ees on Thurs­day and ob­tained by Reuters, EY’s Mu­nich-based manag­ing direc­tor in Ger­many, Hu­bert Barth, wrote: “To­day, our lib­eral democ­racy is once again ex­posed to ma­jor at­tacks at home and from abroad.”

Re­fer­ring to the “land­mark” elec­tions in Bavaria and Hesse - home to the fi­nan­cial cen­tre of Frank­furt - Barth added: “Our democ­racy is an im­por­tant part of our eco­nomic suc­cess.”

“I call on all col­leagues to ex­er­cise their right to vote in or­der to strengthen the demo­cratic and con­sti­tu­tional forces in our coun­try,” Barth con­cluded in his email, which was headed “a po­lit­i­cal state­ment”.

The ex­pected set­back for the CSU risks widen­ing di­vi­sions within Ger­many’s cri­sis-prone na­tional govern­ment, which de­pends on sup­port from the Bavar­ian party.

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