Welt am Sonntag: Germans feel freedom of expression is on the decline

Political correctness quashing freedom of speech, 46 percent of Germans say.

Last year, a study found that only 45 percent of Germans believe they are free to express their views, with 44 percent in fact thinking the complete opposite. This year, the number of Germans who feel their freedom of speech is limited by political correctness grew to 46 percent.

While legal and institutional barriers to freedom of expression may no longer exist in Europe, social sanctions, such as political correctness, could very well be stopping people from freely speaking their minds.

This is what a study by the German Allensbach Institute found last year. While in previous decades, some 67 percent of Germans believed they were free to speak their minds, this dropped to 45 percent by 2021, with 44 percent saying that there were, however, limits on what they could freely say. 

Now, in less than a year, the situation in Germany seems to have gotten worse: According to a fresh study referenced on the front page of last Sunday's edition of popular weekly Welt am Sonntag, 46 percent of Germans now feel that freedom of expression is on the decline. Moreover, 23 percent believe that Germany is on the path to becoming a dictatorship.


These are alarming numbers. Even more so considering that this is the same country where, per another 2021 study, 71 percent of respondents said that using both male and female pronouns to avoid offending anyone is overkill, and only 19 percent believed it was necessary.

Political correctness is the opposite of freedom, as Prime Minister Orbán has said. It leads to a closed, elitist form of politics, according to the PM, and when “people realize that no one is listening to them, that their opinion does not count for anything on an issue which will determine their lives over the next few decades, it is not simply about the capacity of governments to act, but about much more serious problems.”