News from Berlin and Germany, 2nd March 2023

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



35,000 people at Wagenknecht and Schwarzer’s rally

A demonstration in favor of the war in Ukraine until Kiev’s “victory” had about 7,000 people. For that, the Berlin police projected 10,000 participants. The much larger rally organized by Sahra Wagenknecht and Alice Schwarzer, following the “Manifesto for Peace,” signed by over 600,000 people, had an estimated 35,000 people at the place, but the police declared only 13,000 participants. The police seemed to take note of the strong influx to the rally, though. For instance, no trains were stopping at the Brandenburg Gate station, citing overcrowding. Schwarzer mentioned “It was such a peaceful and happy mood. No party-linked mood, no sectarian mood.” Source: jW

Greenpeace occupies SPD HQ’s roof

Activists from the group Greenpeace climbed onto the roof of the Willy Brandt House in Berlin on Monday to protest against the construction of motorways. The group is demanding that Social Democrats speak out against further construction projects. The protesters put up a banner with the inscription “Fortschritt wagen: Bahn statt Beton” (“dare progress: rail instead of concrete”) on the house. Greenpeace activists also wanted to demonstrate on the ground but were stopped. Police were present at the scene with a large contingent of around 100 officers. Lena Donat, advisor on low-carbon mobility, affirmed on the spot that “Building motorways is not socially just.” Source: welt

Die Linke demands expropriation law in Berlin by mid-2024

The Berlin regional association of the Left Party (die Linke) is calling for the drafting of an expropriation law by mid-2024. Since eleven of the party’s twelve district chairpersons have signed the motion, a clear adoption can be assumed. The proposers call for “the drafting of a bill and its vote in the House of Representatives by mid-2024 at the latest”. The demand is justified, among other things, by the interim report of the expert commission on the implementation of the referendum, published in mid-December. Left Party state leader Katina Schubert also spoke about the implementation depending on “coalition negotiations.” Source: tagesspiegel

SPD clears the way for talks with CDU

The SPD in Berlin wants to start coalition negotiations with the CDU, which won the election. According to state chairman Raed Saleh, the vote of the state executive board was clear, with 67.6% in favor. Asked why the SPD had decided against the previous red-green-red coalition, Giffey replied that they had received “very clear” signals from the CDU in the exploratory talks, “which were much more responsive to what is important to social democracy.” In the SPD, however, there were also many voices against an alliance with the CDU. The Jusos in particular are firmly opposed to a coalition with the CDU. “The CDU does not suit Berlin and does not suit the SPD,” Berlin co-chair Sinem Taşan-Funke declared. Source: tagesschau


Scholz woos workers in India

Olaf Scholz (SPD) is interested in skilled workers from India. He wants to facilitate their immigration, especially for the IT sector – but not only. In Bengaluru, India’s software and IT centre, Scholz visited, among other things, the local site of the German IT company SAP and met Indians who will soon start a job in Germany. Scholz had also agreed with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to expand economic relations between the two countries. Both heads of government advocated the conclusion of an EU-India free trade agreement. The background is also Germany’s desire to become less dependent on China, Germany’s largest trading partner. Source: dw

Significantly fewer vegetables harvested in Germany

The quantity of vegetables harvested in Germany fell significantly last year, partly due to heat and drought. A total of 3.8 million tons were harvested, 12% less than in 2021, according to the Federal Statistical Office. That was also 2% less than the average for the years 2016 to 2021. Carrots saw a particularly sharp drop of 19%. Organic farms produced a total of 431,000 tons of vegetables on 17,800 hectares. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture currently sees no signs there could be shortages in the supply of vegetables and fruit in Germany like in other countries such as Britain. Source: n-tv

GFF wants to defend freedom against security

Suddenly, the Society for Freedom Rights (GFF) is on everyone’s lips. The non-governmental organisation, which has existed since 2015, recently won three court cases. One case was about automated data analysis by the police, so-called data mining. In the second case, a complaint was filed against the storage of mobile phone data of refugees. In the third case, the court ruled negotiating skills should not be an argument for different pay for women and men. The initial spark of the association was Ulf Buermeyer, now the chair of the GFF board. The former judge is known through his podcast “State of the Nation”, created together with journalist Philip Banse. Source: nd

Warning strikes in South Brandenburg

The city and district administrations of southern Brandenburg are to go on strike all day on Thursday, according to ver.di. The reason for the strike is the unsuccessful collective bargaining round for public service workers on the federal and local level. The union is demanding a 10.5% wage increase, with a minimum of 500 euros, and a monthly increase of at least 200 euros for trainees, retroactive to 1 January. Municipal day-care centers in the Königs Wusterhausen area and its surroundings are also expected to be closed Thursday due to the strike, ver.di explained. Source: rbb24

What changes in March

From 1 March on, price brakes for electricity and gas will take effect. There also will be financial relief for students. As of 15 March, they can apply for the flat-rate energy allowance of 200 euros. Corona measures will be relaxed in March, too: the staff of health and care facilities will no longer be required to wear masks. In this month, all owners of mopeds, mopeds, scooters, or e-scooters should remember to change their number plates again. And last, but not least: the Federal Cross of Merit will be the same size for women as for men. Source: rbb24

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