Berlin, Germany – January 15, 2024
In a massive display of dissent, around 30,000 farmers, joined by representatives from diverse industries, paraded their tractors through Berlin’s city center on Monday to protest fuel subsidy cuts and mounting costs. The demonstration, which brought the capital to a standstill, marked the climax of a week-long series of nationwide protests.
The farmers’ union president, Joachim Rukwied, urged the government to reverse its decision, warning that the subsidy cuts could force many farmers into bankruptcy. Finance Minister Christian Lindner faced loud opposition as he addressed the rally, acknowledging the legitimacy of the protest but emphasizing the need for dialogue.
The week of protests drew support from various sectors, with representatives from fishing, gastronomy, logistics, and the hospitality industry demanding the withdrawal of a recent VAT increase on restaurant services.
Confrontations erupted in Berlin on Sunday night as tractors entered the city, blaring horns and revving chainsaws, disrupting the sleep of local residents. The demonstrations reflect a broader discontent with the government’s policies, with accusations of cronyism and embezzlement echoing in banners and speeches.
The far-right Alternative für Deutschland party has been blamed for contributing to the tense atmosphere. About 1,300 police officers were deployed to manage the situation, preventing some protesters from carrying out plans to dump manure at the parliament building.