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‘Winter of rage’: Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

Experts are warning that economic hardship may lead to protests throughout Germany in autumn and winter - and that they could be infiltrated by right-wing extremists.

Police officers watch over a demonstration against the Covid measures in Dresden.
Police officers watch over a demonstration against the Covid measures in Dresden. picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

In view of rising energy costs, supply difficulties, growing unemployment and general pessimism about the future, authorities in Germany are warning that there will be mass protests this year – and that these are likely to be abused by extremists.

The warnings come from civil servants from the federal offices for the Protection of the Constitution or Bundesverfassungsschutz – Germany’s watchdog for safeguarding free democracy at the federal level and in the 16 states.

Stephan Kramer, president of Thuringia’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told German broadcaster ZDF that, following the pandemic and the world events of recent months, there is a “highly emotionalised, aggressive, future-pessimistic mood” among the population, “whose trust in the state, its institutions and political actors is tainted by massive doubts”.

He expects that “legitimate protests” will be infiltrated by extremists, especially those from the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinking) scene and that it is likely that some will turn violent.

READ ALSO: How Germany is saving energy ahead of uncertain winter

“What we have experienced so far in the Covid pandemic in terms of partly violent confrontations on social networks, but also in the streets and squares, was probably more like a children’s birthday party in comparison,” Kramer said.

The head of Hamburg’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Torsten Voß, told the Funke Mediengruppe that he expects “extremist conspiracy ideologues and other enemies of the constitution” will try to abuse protests for their ideological purposes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said “a spectrum of radical opponents of vaccination and so-called Covid deniers have built up a protest infrastructure, with contacts and channels for mobilisation”. This group will try to use this infrastructure for the energy security protests in the autumn, he said.

READ ALSO: German households could see ‘four-digit’ rise in energy costs this winter

Brandenburg’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Jörg Müller, also fears that extremists could exploit the energy crisis and high inflation fears for their own purposes.

“Extremists dream of a German winter of rage” he told Welt am Sonntag. “They hope that the energy crisis and price increases will hit people particularly hard so that they can pick up on the mood and advertise their anti-state aspirations. We are following these goings-on with watchful eyes and open ears.”

Vocabulary:

Constitution – (die) Verfassung

Rage – (die) Wut

Violent – gewalttätig

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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ENERGY

United Arab Emirates to supply Germany with gas, diesel

The United Arab Emirates agreed Sunday an "energy security" agreement with Germany to supply liquefied natural gas and diesel as Berlin searches for new power sources to replace Russian supplies.

United Arab Emirates to supply Germany with gas, diesel

Emirati industry minister Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber called it a “landmark new agreement” that “reinforces the rapidly growing energy partnership between the UAE and Germany” as he signed the deal, which was witnessed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the UAE’s state news agency WAM reported.

Scholz is on a visit to the UAE, where he met with Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Scholz said he “welcomed” the “energy security” agreement, WAM added.

As part of the deal, the UAE will provide “an LNG cargo for delivery in late 2022, to be used in the commissioning of Germany’s floating LNG import terminal at Brunsbuettel”, a North Sea port, the statement added.

UAE state oil company ADNOC completed its first ever direct diesel delivery to Germany earlier this month, and will “supply up to 250,000 tons of diesel per month in 2023”, it said.

The German leader is touring the Gulf in the hope of sealing new energy deals to replace Russian supplies and mitigate the energy crisis resulting from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Saturday, Scholz met in Jeddah with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and later Sunday he was due to fly to gas-rich Qatar to hold talks with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Energy transition

Scholz’s stop in the UAE included a tour of an environmental project at a mangrove park with Emirati climate change minister Mariam Almheiri.

Almheiri said discussions on Sunday would, in addition to energy security, cover “climate action and economic growth”.

“The UAE believes all three pillars must go hand and hand. We cannot look at one or two of these pillars separately,” she said.

She also reiterated Abu Dhabi’s insistence on “a just transition” away from fossil fuels.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been leading critics of what they describe as “unrealistic” transition models they say have contributed to the current energy crunch.

Scholz told reporters in Abu Dhabi that his country had “made progress on a whole series of projects here in terms of the production and purchase of diesel and gas”, while adding it was determined to avoid energy dependence on Russia in the future.

“The fact that we are dependent on one supplier and also dependent on its decisions will certainly not happen to us again,” he said.

“With the investments that we are now making in Germany, and that will become reality bit by bit next year, we will indeed have an infrastructure for gas imports for Germany, such that we are no longer directly dependent on the specific supplier at the other end of the pipeline, as we are with a pipeline connection.”

His visit to Qatar comes one day after France’s TotalEnergies signed a new $1.5 billion deal to help expand Doha’s natural gas production. Scholz said such projects were “important”.

“We have to ensure that the production of liquefied gas in the world is advanced to such an extent that the high demand that exists can be met — without having to fall back on the production capacities in Russia that have been used so far,” he said.

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