Rising energy prices and cost of living could trigger protests and create fertile ground for radicals, German media warn
Germany’s federal and regional governments are preparing for a possible wave of protests that could come this fall or winter, state-funded broadcasters ARD and RBB reported this week.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet fears that rising food and energy prices could lead to social unrest and be exploited by various “radical” movements, the media said.
Media reports said the protests could be similar to those Germany experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the government faced resistance to its lockdown and vaccination policies. The ARD’s Tagesschau news service reported that some groups have already sought to organize demonstrations in Berlin under the slogans “Revolt”, “Insurrection”, and “Civil war.”
According to reports, the protests could be similar to those experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the government faced resistance to its lockdown and vaccination policies.
The new gatherings could once again unite people known as Querdenker (lateral thinkers) in Germany. It is a loose organization of grassroots movements that have become prominent during anti-lockdown protests. German media have repeatedly highlighted the movement’s supposed links to various far-right groups.
A “Free Saxony” movement in the state of Saxony, in eastern Germany, also called for “massive civil resistance” according to Tagesschau, citing Matthias Quent, a researcher at Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences.
Saxony’s Interior Minister Armin Schuster also told ARD that his ministry was preparing for “various” scenarios, adding that some “groups, militants or parties” could seek to “to exploit” the current situation for their own narrow purposes. Some of those who “mobilize and agitate” people had already come to the attention of his ministry, he added.
According to media reports, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck also came under fire during his summer tour through Germany and his speech in the Bavarian city of Bayreuth was “massively disturbed” Last week. The protesters, who staged protests during his tour, reportedly called for the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to ease the energy crisis. They would also have demanded the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Russia.
Tagesschau then referred to these requirements as “Pro-Putin, anti-liberal position” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been widely condemned by Western leaders for the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine.
Schuster has meanwhile called for a “transversal crisis team” to mitigate the effects of rising energy prices and costs as well as to prevent possible social unrest. “The quality of the federal government’s crisis management will be a decisive factor in the extent of existential fears and therefore of possible social protests”, he said, adding that if Berlin failed to manage the crisis properly, a “great protest movement” would occur in Germany.
Germany is bracing for an energy crisis as the EU tries to reduce the bloc’s dependence on Russian energy amid a stalemate over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine. Gas prices have almost quadrupled this year, mainly due to a decrease in flows from Russia, the continent’s main supplier.
This has already prompted officials across Germany to take precautionary measures, ranging from capping maximum heating temperatures in public buildings to creating “warm-up areas” to help those struggling to pay their heating bills.
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