Angela Merkel’s successor says she will “aggressively” clamp down on free speech

Germany can't seem to shake off its history.

Germany is among those countries that have historically had the most troubled relationships with human rights and freedoms; however, for more than 70 years now, it's also been a democracy.

And not only that but facto the most influential country and the leader of the entire European Union.

For all these reasons, expectations are very high of Germany to lead by example on such fundamental democratic issues like freedom of speech.

There have been some misgivings over the years – like the draconian copyright laws that easily land innocent people in trouble and get online content unfairly blocked.

But now – what if ruling CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who took over from Angela Merkel last year – managed to, as expected, succeed Merkel as the next head of government – and what if she makes good on her promise to “aggressively” tackle the right of internet users to express their opinion?

Kramp-Karrenbauer's comments that have upset the internet came as the CDU was smarting from a very poor showing in the European Parliament elections last weekend.

And – surprise – the up-and-coming politician has found somebody else to blame. Specifically – the 70 prominent YouTubers who have called on Germans not to vote for either the center-right CDU or the familiar fixture in their coalitions, the center-left SDP.

To be clear: the YouTubers were not campaigning in favor of an opponent – they were merely suggesting that those two parties weren't worth voting for.

But Kramp-Karrenbauer equated this to “propaganda” – similar to “70 newspaper editors” expressing their opinion ahead of an election.

Never mind that, yes – newspapers do in fact express political opinion every-single-day. Whether or not Kramp-Karrenbauer likes them better, should be irrelevant.

But Kramp-Karrenbauer seems to want to make sure expression of opinion remains a privilege of big publishing corporations – and not just any regular citizen with an internet connection.

“The question is – what are rules from the analog realm and which rules should apply to the digital realm? I'll tackle this discussion quite aggressively,” she said.

This got her trending on Twitter in Germany – and not in any good way – as users expressed outrage over what they perceived as a threat of censorship.

Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]