When it comes to the economy, for example, Matuschek told BBC Capital that perceptions had shifted starkly over the course of the last year. Asked whether the economy would improve or deteriorate, Germans in January were split fairly evenly. Since the summer, however, there has been a shift of nearly 20% towards greater pessimism.
And while the assumption may be that this is a phenomenon among older Germans, it’s also very much affecting the younger generation. Mirroring the post-Brexit vote UK, the data shows that young people feel they’ve been saddled with the problems of their parents and grandparents – and that their political future has been determined by an older generation.
To be fair, it has been a tumultuous summer for Germans. A high-profile showdown over migration nearly brought down the government. Mesut Özil, a member of Germany’s national football team who is of Turkish descent, quit this summer after alleging racism from team members and fans. The incident forced broader discussions about the prevalence of everyday racism in Germany.
And in late August, video footage of far-right sympathisers rioting and chasing foreigners through the streets of Chemnitz, a town in the East German state of Saxony, shook the country and reopened questions about the extent to which Germany has learned from its past.
A feeling of crisis has played out in German media. In late June, shortly after the German national team failed to advance to the second round of the World Cup, German magazine Der Spiegel ran a cover entitled: “Once upon a time, there was a strong country” (Es war einmal ein starkes Land). “The crises in politics, economics and sports are the result of complacency,” Der Spiegel’s cover story said. “How could it come to this?”