#248: Anti-Afd protest, un-word, Tesla hiccups
Dear 20% Berlin,
Revelations last week that members of the far-right AfD had met in a hotel in Potsdam with neo-Nazis and Identitarians to brainstorm a plan to deport millions of people, including German citizens with an “immigrant background”, seem to have set off alarm bells in large swathes of German society. Even conservative CDU politicians like Hendrik Wuest are now openly calling the AfD a “Nazi party”.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, tens of thousands took to the Brandenburg Gate on Sunday to protest the AfD (video above) in a demo initiated by Fridays for Future. It’s reassuring that many, many Germans, likely a majority, find the views of the AfD abhorrent.
The meeting in Potsdam also re-ignited the debate about whether the AfD should be banned outright. The German constitution does allow for banning parties that threaten the democratic order, but the process is, understandably, extremely complicated and time-consuming. Even if a majority in the Bundestag agreed to start the process of banning the AfD, the ban couldn’t be implemented in time for elections later this year in three eastern states where the AfD is ahead of all other parties in polling.
AfD wins in Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia would bring us into uncharted territory.
Add to that the prospect of enraged farmers and other groups, a tanking German economy and a government in shambles — and you have a recipe for some serious instability in what was supposed to be Europe’s reliable, boring giant.
More news below.
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Un-word of 2023
Every year, a panel of linguists announces their pick for the year’s Unwort, usually a political buzzword used by populists and far-right-wingers to discriminate one group or another. Previous winners of this dubious award include 2022’s Klimaterroristen, a term used to trash the climate activists supergluing themselves to streets. In 2020, it was Corona-Diktatur, something Germany’s alt-right types are still ranting on about. And so, in light of the aforementioned “masterplan” to deport millions, 2023’s winner is Remigration, the concept that immigration can be simply reversed at a large scale and that non-white people should be “sent home”. It’s a term that’s been spouted by European right-wing populists for years, but only now has entered the popular consciousness in Germany.
Violence at Rosa Luxemburg demo
The traditional march in Friedrichshain marking the deaths of early 20th-century leftwing icons Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht turned violent on Sunday. Police and protesters accuse one another of triggering fighting that resulted in 21 injured cops and 16 arrests (according to the police). No stats on injured demonstrators. The newspaper taz points to eyewitness accounts that the police were the first to escalate after a protester uttered the pro-Palestinian slogan: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, which is categorised as incitement by several German states. Video evidence like this certainly suggests to me that disproportionate force was used on the part of the police. Berlin’s interior affairs minister Iris Spranger (SPD) denied the cops used excessive violence.
Scooter rider killed
A 19-year-old riding a Tier shared e-scooter died in an accident with a tram in Marzahn Monday evening. According to the police, the young man rode the scooter out of the Bürgerpark onto Jan-Petersen-Straße and collided with an approaching M6 tram. He died on the spot. Please, please take care when you’re rising these things.
Tesla halts production — but wants to expand
The EV-maker says it’s stopping most production in Grünheide in Brandenburg due to Houthi attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea. Ships carrying car parts from Asia are being re-routed around South Africa. Tesla expects the stoppage to last through February 11. It could result in 5,000-7,000 fewer cars being built. At the same time, Tesla is planning to expand its German factory but has encountered opposition from local environmentalists. On Sunday it held an open house to win over area residents. Its 100 hectare expansion plan includes a kindergarten, a warehouse and freight rail terminal. Tesla says it wants to double production from 250,000 to 500,000 vehicles per year.
Some upcoming culture tips from our friends at the newsletter The Next Day Berlin
Music: Black Flower
Saturday, 20.01, 8 pm. Privatclub, Skalitzer Str. 85-86, Kreuzberg. Tickets: €27.15.
For those looking for an intimate gig, we suggest Black Flower for a night filled with jazz fusion, Afrobeats, dub, and oriental harmonies. 🎧 Magma
18-19, and 22.01, 7:30 pm; 21.01, 4 pm. Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bismarckstraße 35, Charlottenburg. Tickets: €12-€138.
Flaubert's Madame Bovary inspires the ballet Bovary, directed by Christian Spuck. The adaptation investigates Emma's rebellion, exploring self-determination, loneliness, and the blurred line between fantasy and reality. Using abstract choreography and humor, it transforms the characters' inner worlds into dance.
Cinema: British Shorts Film Festival
18-24.01, various venues. Tickets: €6/11.
The British Shorts festival showcases diverse and entertaining short films from the UK, spanning genres like drama, comedy, and documentaries. The program includes animation, horror, science fiction, and music videos. Awards are given for the best short film, and the festival features concerts, filmmaker discussions, and an exhibition at Sputnik-Kino. Ravers that we are, we won't miss the retrospective Weekender – Memories of Acid House & 90s Rave Scenes at Gretchen.
For more events, sign up at The Next Day Berlin!
One has to take such surveys with a grain of salt but this one rings true to me, especially with all the nastiness brewing this year: Germans are the second least satisfied people in the European Union. In data published by Eurostat, Germans scored 6.5 points on a scale of 0 to 10 for general life satisfaction. Only Bulgaria is lower at 5.6 points. That’s 26th out of 27th. Weirdly the Austrians, who are basically Germans with mountains, scored highest, at 7.9 points.
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