Thousands protest in Berlin over soaring inflation
Germany is not going through the best patch currently, with Germans protesting against their government for its lack of action regarding inflation in the country.
Thousands took to the streets in Berlin on Saturday to protest rising food prices, calling for the cooling of the red-hot expenses and for the rich to face higher taxes in light of the ongoing cost of living crisis in Germany.
The protestors had many demands to ask from the government in Berlin, and with many banners raised during the protests, one of them demanding the redistribution of wealth through the word "Redistribute!"l
The protests took place after several left-wing organizations called on their supporters to take to the streets and demand action from the government to mitigate the rising food and rent prices.
The police, as well as organizers, said at least 3,000 people attended the protest in criticism of the economic system that "puts profits over people's needs," as another banner put it.
The popular demonstration came at a time when inflation in Germany is at its highest level in more than 70 years, reaching 10.4% in October, figures released on Friday said.
Price hikes are affecting households and corporations in Europe's largest economy as the government forecasts a 0.4% contraction in GDP next year amid aspirations in Berlin to mitigate the rising energy prices, like by imposing a partial cap on the prices of gas and electricity, which will come into force in 2023.
Meanwhile, most of the other mitigating measures, including subsidized rail travel, have already ended.
In a similar vein as the aforementioned protestors, German economic experts proposed on Wednesday that Berlin raise taxes on higher earners as a means of helping households that are struggling with the continuously rising energy prices. The suggestion was immediately dismissed by the country's finance ministers.
This comes just a week after German Federal Network Agency head Klaus Müller said that though Germany has decent stockpiles of gas, the winter can be quite the long one for the country.
"We have stored a lot of gas, but the winter can last a long time," Müller said on Twitter. "To avoid a gas shortage, we must save gas, set up LNG terminals, and secure our infrastructure."
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said a week earlier that German citizens would need to learn to be modest and accept the sacrifices and losses they are going through during the current crisis.
"It is clear that, over the coming years, we will need to accept that sacrifices must be made. Most have already felt the effects. We all must contribute to whatever we can. This crisis demands that we relearn to be modest," the president said, addressing the country over the Ukraine crisis and the challenges it has triggered for the German people.
Meanwhile, Alternative for Germany party (AfD) co-chair Tino Chrupalla underlined that Germany won't be Europe's gas hub for the sale of hydrocarbons - instead, it will have to purchase Russian fossil fuels from other countries, including Turkey.
This comes despite Germany announcing in mid-October that its gas reserves have been filled up to 95% faster than anticipated.
The biggest economy in Europe was largely reliant on Russian gas and scrambled to increase its supplies before winter after exports from Russia were stopped following the start of the war in Ukraine. "Storage levels today surpassed an average level of 95 percent," the Economy Ministry said in a statement. "That shows that regulation is having an effect and supply is strengthened for the coming winter."
Berlin set a number of objectives in July to ensure that gas stocks would be 95% full by November. Economy Minister Robert Habeck referred to his country filling its gas stockpiles as an "important milestone".
He said government measures had managed "to regulate a market that was largely unregulated in the past decades so that we could fill the storage facilities faster than expected despite the halt in deliveries via the Nord Stream 1" pipeline from Russia.
The administration said that recent energy-saving initiatives and sizable gas purchases from other providers had resulted in important advancements.
Berlin has also implemented policies that permit the use of more coal-based energy and lower energy consumption in public structures.
Additionally, it has invested 1.50 billion euros ($1.46 billion) in the purchase of liquefied natural gas from Qatar and the United States, two of its key suppliers. Five new LNG terminals are also being developed for the purpose of importing LNG by sea.