Germany’s president: Democracy needs confident, decent citizens

Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is calling on citizens to stand up for democracy in a Christmas address to be broadcast on radio and television across the country on Wednesday.

In the speech – made available in advance to dpa – Steinmeier says that Germany has lived “in unity, in freedom, in a democracy” for the past 30 years. “But please never think that this can be taken for granted. We need democracy – but right now democracy needs us!”

“What our democracy needs is self-assured citizens, who have confidence and drive, common sense and decency, and who show solidarity with others,” Steinmeier says. “I know that all these qualities are present in you, in us, in this society. And that is why I believe in us. I believe in this country.”

“You are part of this democracy. By casting your vote, by being politically active – by demonstrating in the streets, or supporting a political party, or perhaps even by serving as a local councillor – a job for which fresh blood is urgently needed in so many places.
To sum up, you all hold a piece of Germany in your hands,” Steinmeier says.

The president speaks of the October terrorist attack in Halle, eastern Germany, when a right-wing extremist targeted a synagogue.

Steinmeier says that one of the images that made a deep impression on him this year was the synagogue’s strong and sturdy door. “It bears the traces of some 20 bullets. It is a miracle that it held,” he says.

This strong, battered door stands for so much more, Steinmeier says. “It stands for us. Are we strong? Can we defend ourselves? Are we standing shoulder to shoulder? Do we stand up for each other?”

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