They are losing their inhibitions in a frightening way and becoming increasingly anti-human and anti-democratic. We resolutely oppose this. Hate, exclusion and xenophobia have no place in our society.

What is the best way to deal with populists and agitators like the AfD? I am convinced that we have to address them substantively. And use numbers, data and facts to reveal that their solutions and their policies threaten not only our democratic foundation, but also our economic foundation, thereby endangering growth, prosperity and jobs now and in the future.

Protest Vote Leads to Economic and Social Decline

Companies have this responsibility. We are role models and we have the best arguments. The AfD wants isolation, it wants to return to the past; that is not a solution and certainly not a path to a future that promises prosperity, security and employment. We should make this clear again and again at every opportunity, in every debate, in every doubt.

Specifically: if implemented, the AfD program would mean a massive loss of prosperity – for every individual – especially for people with low and middle incomes. The AfD is not a party for the “little people”, as it often claims. Anyone who wants to express their protest against the AfD will receive economic and social decline in response.

The AfD program is a catastrophe for the economy

The fact is that the AfD's Dexit plans are an economic catastrophe for our country. If we left the EU, based on the experience of Brexit, the German economy would grow six percent less in the coming years. As a result, around 2.2 million jobs would be at risk!

Over time, the effect would increase even more and in ten or fifteen years we would have an economic loss of around ten percent, which would correspond to between 400 and 500 billion euros less economic power, according to IW figures. And trade agreements are also rejected by the AfD.

The success of our country – and our economy – is based on global trade: each trade agreement guarantees prosperity and guarantees our influence in this world.

Is the shortage of qualified workers just a “claim of some lobbyists”? Why is this wrong?

Next example: in the AfD's federal election programme, the shortage of qualified workers only appears – I quote – as a “claim by some business associations and lobbyists”. The problem is mentioned in the European electoral programme. It must be fought with “AI, robotics and digitalisation”, the recovery of Germans abroad and the qualification of local and EU citizens.

Let's also look at the facts here: seven out of ten medium-sized automobile companies complain of a growing shortage of qualified workers. I do not have conversations with business representatives in which this topic does not play a central role. That is why we urgently need more qualified immigration, we have to advertise our location and, of course, we also need to better qualify our employees.

Plus, we're not the only ones in the world who need skilled workers: competition is increasing! It is even more important that we are an attractive country, that people like to come to us and stay with us.

Returning to the German mark would be the next bad economic decision

Another example: go back to the D-Mark. That would be the next bad economic decision. Our industry benefits from the European internal market and a stable euro: these are central pillars of our prosperity and have allowed us to develop enormously in recent decades.

Nostalgic memories of the D-Mark don't help us. A new framework would greatly damage our economy and trade, cause new currency problems and, as a result, mean a loss of prosperity for all individuals.

We will only remain relevant as a united Europe

These examples are exemplary in unmasking the content of the AfD's populist demands. And in general, these populists ignore a very central idea for our future: if Germany, if Europe wants to have the opportunity to generate growth and prosperity and remain geopolitically relevant, this can only be achieved in community. That is why we need cooperation, solidarity. Alliances, trade agreements, more global networks: our future is based on this. And definitely not in terms of isolation.

We must not avoid confronting the populists in terms of content. On the contrary: we must adopt an offensive approach to the content of the issue. At the same time, the democratic parties of this country must manage to defend a politics that radiates security, that takes seriously the concerns and fears of the people, that finally addresses the problems and gives them the justified feeling of having a clear plan for the future. of our country. country .

And we have to show what we can do, tell a positive story: around 780,000 people work in the German automobile industry alone. Every day in our companies we live cosmopolitanism, tolerance, openness, exchange guided by positive curiosity and diversity. These values ​​are part of our DNA as a company that operates internationally and are also of fundamental importance for our economic and social model and allow our success. A success that we want to continue in a cosmopolitan Germany.