Freedom Index 2021: Germans feel less free

Freedom Index 2021: Germans feel less free

A study that examines the subjective feeling of freedom amongst the people of Germany, as well as their perceived feelings towards the state, freedom of expression and social duty, has determined that Germans are feeling more restricted than they have in 16 years.

How “free” do Germans think they are?

A recent study by the Allensbach Institute (IfD) has revealed that Germans feel less free to express themselves. The Freedom Index 2021 is subjective and looks at how much freedom people living in Germany think they are afforded in the country. It examines the subjective feeling of freedom, as well as peoples’ attitudes towards the state. The study also looked at how people perceived the opportunity to express themselves freely and their perceived duty to society.

According to the Freedom Index 2021, only 36 percent of Germans feel “free”, the lowest value since 2005, when, according to the study, Germans had experienced certain societal restrictions, such as limitations on travel. The head of the Allensbach Institute, Roland Schatz, has blamed the restrictions implemented by Germany’s federal government to curb the spread of coronavirus as the main reason for this year’s significantly low feelings of freedom. "The main reason, of course, has been the experience for 16 months of how the federal government... intervenes in the everyday lives of private individuals," he said, drawing an obvious parallel with the low score in 2005.

Germans feel less free to express their political opinion

The study asked respondents: “Do you have the feeling that you can speak your political opinion freely in Germany today, or is it better to be careful?” Only 45 percent answered that they could talk freely, which is the lowest value since the study’s inception in 1990. Just four years ago this value was 63 percent; however, it has been on a continuous downward trend for the past three decades. 

Another 44 percent of respondents answered that it was "better to be careful" to the above question, which is a pretty significant increase from its value in 2017 (25 percent).

According to Schatz, coronavirus also plays a big part here. He explains that just asking someone if they have been vaccinated or not is already of a political nature.

Attitude towards the state has improved

Despite feeling less free to express their political opinions, respondents to the survey did indicate an improved attitude towards the state and their role within it. According to the study, 47 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “The state is all of us, it is up to us citizens how Germany develops”, which is 10 percent higher than in 2012.

On the other hand, only 42 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “The state and the citizens are different things. We citizens have little influence on how the state develops.”

The study also revealed that more citizens believe they have influence over what happens in Germany, as well as showing a significant rise in the willingness to participate in society.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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