Opposition groups in Germany have started widespread protests demanding that the government tackle the soaring inflation and skyrocketing energy prices. On Monday, September 5, Die Linke (The Left) organized a major demonstration in Leipzig which saw the participation of thousands of people, including activists from the Socialist-Democratic Student Association (SDS) and several other leftist and antifa groups.
The rally was addressed by leftist leaders like Sören Pellmann, Amira Mohamed Ali, Martin Schirdewan, and Gregor Gysi. They called on the Traffic Light coalition government in the country – comprising the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Alliance 90/The Greens coalition – to ensure that electricity, heating, food, and bus and train transport remain affordable for everyone. Meanwhile, far-right groups including Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Free Saxons also started protests to tap the people’s anger against the government.
Due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and sanctions imposed by the EU and the US on Russian gas exports to Europe, energy prices have skyrocketed in European countries, resulting in an acute cost of living crisis. The sanctions have also affected operations of the Nord Stream project, a major source of natural gas supply from Russia to Europe through offshore pipelines to Germany.
At the onset of the Russian-Ukraine war, Germany suspended certification of the Nord Stream 2 project that was almost ready to start operations, reportedly at the instigation of the EU and the US. Gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline also became reduced and has now been halted by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom. These issues have led to an acute energy crisis across Europe, including in Germany. European leaders are anxious on how to survive the approaching winter.
In order to help gas importers, the German government has envisaged a controversial gas price levy of 2.4 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for consumers with effect from October 1. This is likely to add to the financial burden that common people are facing due to the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Die Linke has called on the government to put a cap on energy prices in the county in order to relieve the population from skyrocketing prices.
Die Linke stated that “with the planned gas levy of 2.4 cents, families will incur additional costs of several hundred euros. Through the gas levy, the corporations can pass on 90% of the increased costs to consumers.”
“Gas prices have already risen dramatically. More and more people no longer know whether they can still afford to heat their homes this winter. The well-being of the corporations seems to be more important to the federal government than that of many citizens. Even corporations that make fat profits in view of the increased prices would benefit from the gas levy,” the party added.