Short­ly after the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine, Olaf Scholz declared the “Zeit­en­wende” in his speech in the Bun­destag. In his address, Scholz empha­sized not only his sup­port for Ukraine and the con­dem­na­tion of Russia’s ille­gal inva­sion but also sig­naled a turn­ing point in Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy. This speech is often seen as a piv­otal moment, where Ger­many increas­ing­ly dis­tances itself from the long-held mot­to of “Wan­del durch Han­del” — the goal to influ­ence on oth­er states through trade rela­tions. Sub­se­quent­ly, the defense capa­bil­i­ty of Ger­many was strength­ened through spe­cial bud­gets and an increase in the defense bud­get. The envi­sioned ver­sion of the Zeit­en­wende by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment includes not only a change in Ger­man for­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy but fun­da­men­tal­ly aims to rethink Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy and to reduce depen­den­cies on for­eign nations, espe­cial­ly in ener­gy pol­i­cy. 

Pub­lic opin­ion on this mat­ter in Ger­many have been lit­tle explored. There­fore, on behalf of the Ger­man Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions (DGAP), we are con­duct­ing focus groups with the pop­u­la­tion in six Ger­man cities. How is Germany’s role in for­eign pol­i­cy per­ceived? How does the pop­u­la­tion eval­u­ate the mea­sures tak­en so far of the Zeit­en­wende? What wish­es and con­cerns exist regard­ing the Zeit­en­wende? These ques­tions will not only be dis­cussed with the pop­u­la­tion but also in focus groups with mem­bers of the DGAP. Thus, we will not only gath­er per­spec­tives from the pop­u­la­tion in var­i­ous cities in Ger­many but also com­pare them with the posi­tions of experts. Final­ly, we will con­duct par­tic­i­pa­to­ry obser­va­tions of pub­lic dis­cus­sions with mem­bers of the Ger­man Bun­destag in the six cities, orga­nized by the Action Group Zeit­en­wende of the DGAP. 

The project aims to pro­vide in-depth insights into how the pop­u­la­tion has per­ceived the Zeit­en­wende so far, how mea­sures are being eval­u­at­ed, and what desires exist in the pop­u­la­tion regard­ing for­eign pol­i­cy.