News from Berlin and Germany, 5th July 2023

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



Thousands of cyclists demonstrate against Berlin bike path freeze

Last Sunday, thousands of Berliners went to the streets to protest one of the new coalition’s most debated decisions: the plan to freeze all planned new bike lanes, and to even close some of the already finished ones. Police estimated 8,000 people turned out, while organisers mention 13,000. Either way, it was obvious many were angry with the decision from Berlin’s new Transport Senator Manja Schreiner (CDU). The demonstration, in order to stress how important safe cycling is, went through two “ghost bikes” as well as memorials erected for cyclists killed in traffic accidents. Source: exberliner

“Rave the Planet” threatens to be cancelled

The techno parade “Rave the Planet” is supposed to take place next Saturday. This year’s motto is “Music is the Answer.” The organisers had registered 300,000 participants with the police in advance; last year around 200,000 people took part in the Berlin parade’s first edition. However, whether it can really take place is unclear. According to the organisers, they have not been able to find an ambulance service. The Malteser have dropped out at short notice. That organization, on the other hand, retorts that there had never been a binding agreement. Organisers of the parade ask emergency services to collaborate and find quick solutions. Source: rbb24


Study in East Germany: Longing for “Authoritarian State”

Skepticism about the functioning of democracy remains particularly pronounced in eastern Germany. This is the conclusion of a representative study by the Else-Frenkel-Brunswik Institute of the University of Leipzig on “Authoritarian Dynamics and Dissatisfaction with Democracy”. According to the study, not even half of the respondents were satisfied with the state of the political system. Two-thirds even considered it pointless to get involved politically. Moreover, two-thirds of those surveyed shared a longing for the GDR. Around a quarter counted themselves among the losers of the transition. “In retrospect, satisfaction among respondents with their life in the GDR is high,” said co-study leader Oliver Decker. Source: tagesschau

University of Potsdam used as backdrop for right-wing extremists

A German flag hangs from the staircase of the Neues Palais in Potsdam. The photo on the Instagram channel of Anna Leisten, the Brandenburg state chairperson of the far-right youth organisation Junge Alternative (JA), is tagged with the hashtags #pridemonth and #prideinsteadpride – “a clear and disgusting mockery of Pride Month”, according to a statement by the General Students’ Committee (AStA) of the University of Potsdam. The AStA is considering pressing charges against Leisten. Last February, some queer students in the Potsdam district of Golm were verbally and physically attacked by a group of right-wingers. According to the AStA, students who were spreading right-wing slogans were identified. Source: nd-aktuell

First AfD mayor in Germany

The right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) has an elected full-time mayor for the first time. Farmer Hannes Loth won the run-off election in Raguhn-Jeßnitz in Saxony-Anhalt. Loth had already been ahead in the first round of voting in mid-June. At that time, however, none of the four candidates was able to achieve an absolute majority. The previous mayor of Raguhn-Jeßnitz, Bernd Marbach (no party affiliation), had given up his office prematurely in the spring for health reasons. For the AfD, the filling of the mayor’s office is, after the office of the district administrator in the district of Sonneberg, another prominent post in public administration. Source: dw

“1.5 million immigrants a year”

Economic expert Monika Schnitzer has proposed more immigration as a measure against the increasing shortage of skilled labour. “Germany needs 1.5 million immigrants a year if we are to have 400,000 new citizens every year, and thus maintain the labour force,” the economist told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The skilled labour immigration law passed by the Bundestag is a step in the right direction. However, more is needed: “We should not demand that foreign skilled workers know German for every job.” Also, to address the shortage of skilled workers, Germany must invest more in children too. “It is an indictment that one in four fourth graders cannot read properly,” she criticised. Source: tagesschau

Draft budget for 2024: Lindner plans for 445.7 billion euros

The draft budget for 2024 has been argued over for a long time, but now it is ready. The finance minister, Christian Lindner (FDP), wants to spend 445.7 billion euros, and the new debt is to be 16.6 billion euros. The Ministry of Finance wants to follow a strict budget course in the coming years. According to information from Der Spiegel and the dpa, there will be cuts in parental benefits, for example: in the future, only parents with an annual income of up to 150,000 euros would be entitled to it. Source: tagesschau

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