• Germany's news in English

Citizens alienated by politics taking to streets for single issues

The Local · 17 Oct 2010, 10:48

Published: 17 Oct 2010 10:48 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“People in this country want to take part more and more, but not simply via elections or in parties,” said Wichard Woyke, political scientist at Münster University.

Germans want to have a direct effect on particularly large projects which have a direct influence on their day-to-day lives and quality of living, he said.

“This is currently illustrated by the mass protests against the station in Stuttgart just as much as with the school reform in Hamburg, the airport in Berlin or also in Gorleben, where the citizens have been demonstrating for decades against the establishment of a final storage place for nuclear waste.”

What is new, is that people from a broader social spectrum are taking part in these demonstrations – and from all political standpoints.

“You see a nurse next to a lawyer, a Green next to a CDU voter, a pensioner next to a young person,” said Woyke.

And people fighting local battles are helping each other he noted, saying that recently 30 opponents of the nuclear waste storage facility in Gorleben have said they will drive their tractors to Stuttgart.

The growing numbers of mass protests should prompt politicians to strengthen their efforts to explain their intentions to the voters.

“It is very important that the citizens feel involved in decision-making,” said Woyke. That is the only way people can feel included in the parliamentary democratic system, he said.

The weekend saw thousands on the streets in Berlin protesting the government’s policies of cutting Hartz IV social provision and the financial crisis policies in general.

Despite the absence of any prominent speakers, or the involvement of political parties or trade unions, the demonstration drew around 7,000 people to the city centre on Saturday.

Those fighting the Stuttgart 21 rail construction project briefly occupied part of the central station on Saturday evening too, while around 20,000 people gathered on the streets despite rainy and chilly weather.

Story continues below…

More than 3,000 blind and vision-impaired people demonstrated in Kiel against the halving of support payments from the Schleswig-Holstein state government.

The monthly payment of €400 is set to be reduced to €200 as part of the state’s budgetary savings plan. The demonstrators included representatives of the churches and opposition politicians.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

11:47 October 17, 2010 by storymann
I see some similarity between the famous Hitler rally picture and this one..
17:41 October 17, 2010 by Frenemy
Your confusing left vs. right-wing politics.
20:47 October 17, 2010 by LiterallySimon
You're confusing "your" and "you're".
20:57 October 17, 2010 by Frenemy
tru dat! :-p
11:30 October 18, 2010 by veritas_69
Germans are increasingly taking to the streets because they are unable to get their political class to listen to them otherwise.
04:55 October 21, 2010 by Diet Simon
storymann, that is pretty sick. You're determined to see Nazism in everything German, I suspect. I can't for the life of me see anything like Nuremberg or similar Hitler events in the bright and breezy picture here. Sick man, sick!
Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd