The entrepreneur Reinhold Würth, known as the “Screw King”, joins the protests against the AfD and advises his 25,000 employees in Germany not to vote for the party. In a five-page letter, the 88-year-old billionaire and family businessman warns, among other things, possible protest voters: “To make a fuss and vote for the AfD out of dissatisfaction with the traffic light government just for a little fun is simply not enough.”

In Germany, Würth writes, no one has to go hungry or freeze. It is normal that people can live a more liberal life once they are well established. The billionaire and art patron argues that the savings rate in the country is high, health care is on a European level, and working hours are significantly shorter than in many other countries. But it is a human characteristic to take what has been achieved for granted and no longer value it.

Praise from politicians: clear words

The entrepreneur also refers to the federal government. He describes the traffic light alliance as a coalition “which in many parts is running around like a bunch of chickens”, but which nevertheless “brings one or two positive laws into motion”. His group of companies does not normally comment on political issues, “but in this case of the AfD I see myself in agreement with millions upon millions of German citizens.”

The reactions are unsurprisingly divided: Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann praises Würth’s letter highly. The statements were formulated very clearly, seriously and “at the same time very charmingly”. Kretschmann spoke of the very balanced attitude of a person with life experience who knew how success came about.

Kretschmann’s party colleague, the Baden-Württemberg Finance Minister Danyal Bayaz, wrote on

Successful business year

In contrast, Würth is sharply criticized by the AfD parliamentary group leader in the Stuttgart state parliament, Anton Baron. The entrepreneur takes part in “the smear campaign against the AfD” and shows “his contempt for the existential fears of citizens,” writes Baron on his Facebook page. Würth has crossed a red line. “In a democracy, there should be no bans on thinking or speaking; no one should want to force an opinion on someone else,” writes Baron.

Würth began an apprenticeship in his father’s then small business at the age of 14 before taking over after his father’s death in 1954 at the age of 19. Today he is chairman of the foundation’s supervisory board. The billionaire is one of the richest Germans.

According to its own information, more than 87,000 people currently work for the trading group bearing its name. According to preliminary figures, in the 2023 financial year the operating result before taxes was 1.4 billion euros, below the previous year’s figure of 1.6 billion euros. However, this is still the second best operating result in the company’s history.