Monday is to be the biggest day yet for German anti-government protesters as thousands of tractors and now truckers are expected in Berlin as the workers who keep society fed and clothed push back against the green agenda.
German Police attempted to limit the impact of a huge protest against the coalition government’s anti-agriculture policies on Monday, saying they had set a hard limit on the number of vehicles permitted to attend. Officers on the outskirts of the city have been stopping muckspreaders and turning them around, preventing tractors towing loads of manure from entering Berlin, reports the Berliner Morgenpost.
Muck-spreaders have been used to great effect at farmer protests in European countries in the past, with then-viral footage showing streams of effluence being flung onto, and into, government buildings as a signal of dissatisfaction with ruling parties. Berlin Police said in a statement that “our colleagues have detected a load of feces… [these] vehicles will be excluded from the journey.”
While police work to control the demo, the fire brigade welcomed the convoy of tractors in the early hours with an act of solidarity, B.Z. reports, with fire engines showing lights and sirens, and firemen applauding as the vehicles rolled past.
At least 3,200 tractors are already in Berlin and thousands more are on their way, reports state. But police say they will only permit 5,000 to take part, and have set up parking areas for the thousands of vehicles in the city, Morgenpost states. Roads across the city are already closed, as are many bus routes.
Speakers today include the president of the German Farmer’s Association and Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner. As Lindner attempted to address the rally on Monday morning, he had to pause his speech as he was drowned down by shouts.
“Significantly more than” the 10,000 authorised participants are expected and the tractor areas were already full by the early hours of Monday morning. Boosting the protest’s size is the fact that the farmers, which have been shutting down major roads for the past week as part of a long-lasting protest against the governing coalition, have now been joined in solidarity by truckers. German media notes truck drivers and logistics professionals come with their own concerns against the government, but it is clear those issues are closely aligned with those faced by farmers.
For truckers, issues pushing them to protest today and to launch other protests of their own later in the week include rising ‘C02 pricing’ — a further tax upon operating an engine-driven vehicle on top of the rest, meant to punish producers of emissions — and rising toll road prices. A 2023 summary notes these costs to truckers are rising 83 per cent and the “increase in freight prices passed on by the hauliers to their customers… if transiting through Germany from the Netherlands border to Poland, a distance of circa 700 kms using the Toll roads, this is an increase of circa €110.00 per trip.”
Tractor protesters themselves are also at odds with government policies that seek to raise more cash for the state by punishing those who use machines. In agriculture’s case, this means increased fuel costs by the government withdrawing a diesel subsidy, and ending the taxation exemption for agricultural vehicles. Farmers say agriculture is dying in Germany by a ‘thousand cuts’ and these nakedly anti-farmer policies by the left-green-centrist coalition government are the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.
Beyond the truckers, the farmers also have a friend in the German people, with B.Z. reporting “70 per cent of Germans support the farmer’s protests”. The government on the other hand derides the protesters as “extremists” who show “contempt” for compromise and who deliberately “foment anger”.
The alarming language from the government accusing farmers and their supporters of extremism has triggered some derision, however, with a leader in Die Welt, Germany’s top establishment-broadsheet newspaper calling out the present ruling coalition’s constant accusation of its opponents killing democracy to silence dissent.
The chief reporter of Welt Anna Schneider wrote this weekend that: “You’ve probably noticed: Democracy is dying, again. At least if you believe Robert Habeck and other Greens who see the farmers’ protests as a threat to our country. What nonsense.”
The co-ruling Green party are incredibly worried, Schnieder notes, stating warnings of extreme farmers wishing to “destroy our democratic state” while comparing protesters to Nazis had now passed into the state of being considered infamous. In all, it was noted: “A democracy that cannot tolerate government criticism and non-violent protests can certainly be considered pitiful… [because] farmers are taking to the streets against the traffic light government’s policies, it is assumed that they are against the system, against democracy as such. What nonsense. Criticism of the government is not the same as criticism of democracy.”