The worldwide food and fuel crises saw a spike in protests in countries across Europe in 2022, research by the American University has found.
A report on the cost of living protests across the world in 2022 has found that the number of demonstrations on the issues of food and fuel spiked in Europe last year, with France, Germany, Italy and Spain all being significant flashpoints for political unrest.
Overall, the study undertaken by the American University found that there were over 12,500 protesting the rising cost of living across the world last year, with Latin America and South Asia bearing the brunt of the demos.
However, according to the research commissioned by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung foundation in Germany, 2022 saw an unusual trend of the epicentre of protests travelling northwards, with Europe being the region which saw the third-greatest number of protests, with the study putting the overall figure at over 2,500.
This, it claims, represents over double the number of demonstrations that occurred in the Middle-East and North Africa combined within the same time period.
Speaking to POLITICO, the executive director of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York, Michael Bröning, described the trend as being “historically unique”, with France, Germany and Italy and Spain all making it into the top ten list of the countries that saw the highest number of cost of living protests.
Also reportedly unusual is the main driver of the protest, with study author Naomi Hossain saying that the cost of energy — not food — was at the heart of demonstrations.
“There have never been so many cost-of-living — mainly energy — protests around the world documented in a single year before,” Hossain remarked. “Historically, food was the real flashpoint. Now energy is the big thing.”
The study goes on to suggest that — while more research is needed — there are significant indications that these protests have benefitted political groups on the left, centre-left, and so-called “far-right”, with mainstream establishment parties likely to face significant difficulties in holding on to power over the coming years.
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While the study’s revelation that cost of living protests appear to be creeping northwards seems innovative, for many in Europe, news that there was a spike in the number of cost of living protests last year is far from surprising.
Thanks to a combination of COVID-19, the Ukraine War, and the green agenda politics of many governments, people have been left struggling to feed their families and heat their homes, with significant numbers being forced to resort to avail of charitable donations in order to make ends meet.
Although inflation overall is showing signs of slightly slowing in Europe for now, with the cost of fuel easing off very slightly amid an unseasonably warm winter, prices remain at their newly inflated levels, and the cost of food continues to grow, putting pressure on especially the poorest of families in western nations.
To make matters worse, this trend does not look likely to reverse itself anytime soon, with a recent report by a number of universities indicating that problems with the world’s supply of fertilisers — which has historically been reliant on both Russia and Ukraine — could see even further food supply instability and, in turn, price hikes.
Overall, 100 million more people across the world are now at risk of hunger due to the crisis, with there likely to be around one million more hunger deaths across the world should countermeasures not be put in place.
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