Left and right have been announcing anti-government protests for days. Now the trade unions also want to get people onto the streets. As in the Czech Republic, a bizarre alliance could emerge – whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Two camps, same thought. The Left Party wants to demonstrate on Monday in Leipzig and Erfurt under the motto “Hot autumn against social cold”. At the AfD, the motto is currently: “Hot autumn, instead of cold feet!” Far left and far right meet verbally and have the same goal: to prepare the government, in their words, a hot autumn. And it becomes more and more clear what an ominous alliance this could lead to.
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Because not only that left and right agree on the choice of words and the goal. Apparently, some of them don’t mind working side by side. Because both the right-wing extremist micro-party Free Saxony and the AfD and other groups from left and right have already announced, also in Leipzig, sometimes even spatially close to each other, to join the protest of the left party. The “Free Saxony” announced directly: “Free Saxony support the Monday protest by Sören Pellmann and the left – together against those up there”. The left complained about this appropriation and vehemently distanced itself from the right.
But the Left quite deliberately used the word Monday Demo, shamelessly accepting the historical connection to the Monday demonstrations against the SED dictatorship in Leipzig in 1989. And the right-wing protest movement Pegida always held its “walks” on Mondays. In an interview, Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left) therefore asked his party friends to be careful with the choice of words.
But it’s not just parties on the right and left fringes that are fueling the mood in Germany or absorbing the heated mood, depending on your point of view. The unions are getting ready too.
Verdi boss Frank Werneke threatened protests with regard to the government’s third relief package, should the measures not be sufficient from Verdi’s point of view. Preparations are being made with other trade unions and social organizations for demonstrations in the course of the autumn. At the same time, he warned that there was a great danger “that demagogues would try to exploit people who are now in need for their own purposes and abuse the situation politically. That would play into the hands of those who understand Russia in the AfD or other right-wing populists. The situation is very tense and explosive right now.”
The militant attitude of the unions was also emphasized by IG Metall boss Jörg Hofmann, who said: “We are not now speculating about a ‘hot autumn’, but will then call on our members to protest if sufficient relief steps are not decided.”
One thing is clear: should these various actors call for protests, it will be inevitable that figures from the milieu of lateral thinkers will join the trade union demos.
The protection of the constitution is concerned that in Germany, as in the Czech Republic, right-wing and left-wing groups could take to the streets together. Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) fears that demonstrations will be appropriated by extremists and called for demarcation.
The example of the Czech Republic shows that these concerns are not unfounded. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against the Czech government in Prague on Saturday, accusing it of taking the interests of Ukraine more seriously than those of its own people. According to the police, around 70,000 people gathered in the central Wenceslas Square at the rally called by right-wing extremist parties and the Communist Party under the motto “The Czech Republic first”.
But it was not just about the war and its consequences, but also about corona vaccinations and the admission of migrants. The demonstrators called for the resignation of the centre-right government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala, which has only been in office since December. “The best for the Ukrainians and two sweaters for us,” read one banner. The government was thus accused of supporting Ukraine with sanctions against Russia, but not helping the Czechs, who were suffering from massively rising heating costs as a result.
The Czech Republic has taken in around 400,000 war refugees from Ukraine and has supplied the country with significant amounts of military goods and humanitarian aid.
Speaking of Saturday’s demonstration, Fiala said it was organized by “pro-Russian individuals close to extremist positions” whose interests ran counter to those of the Czech Republic. “It is clear that there are Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns on our territory and some people just listen to them,” the head of government said.