© Florian Bayer

State and values

Despite all the changes in society, Germany remains a country with conservative values. The system of government, strong civil society and respect for human rights are considered the cornerstones of Germany, and are awarded due recognition as such. As the same time, a progressive Germany is often held back by rigid bureaucracy and antiquated family policy.

Stable values with contradictions

Many interviewees view the respect for human rights as a fundamental German belief. They also pointed out contradictions: why does Germany continue to export considerable amounts of arms despite its alleged pacifism? How could the diesel scandal happen in a country with such a strong focus on environmental protection?

Antiquated family and gender equality policy

In view of its modern image, Germany also seems to lag behind when it comes to family and gender equality policy. Many interviewees were perplexed by the fact that even in the 21st century, it is still not possible to reconcile work and family life in Germany sufficiently. They were also surprised at how conservative the position of women in society is in modern Germany.

Germany as a role model

The system of government as a whole is viewed as progressive and held in high esteem.  When it comes to political organisation, the party system, federalism, or the social welfare state, Germany appears to be a role model for the world. The success is primarily attributed to functioning institutions and a strong and committed civil society. Social cohesion is also perceived positively.

The political system in Germany is unique. It works very well in Germany, and it would be a mistake to give it up in Germany. But it is also not right to believe that this system could work in any other country.

Civil society as a supporting pillar

The interviewees identified civil society as a special feature. Particular emphasis is placed on the ability to organise and show solidarity, and to get involved in political processes.

In German culture, there is no contradiction between assuming responsibility for your community and acting on your own initiative.

Stumbling block bureaucracy

One problem does remain: German bureaucracy. Reliable structures and rules provide orientation and security – they are part of the German success story.

In many areas, however, the rigid set of rules and regulations is also seen as a hindrance, for example when starting a company, setting up new production sites, looking for housing or jobs and in terms of migration.

Read more about the key findings in the chapters ‘Values and Society. Stable – but a little behind the times’ and ‘State and Institutions - a strong foundation’.

Additional information