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Protests against far-right parties continue in Germany

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-02-27 09:27

A protester displays a toilet brush and a redacted sign reading, "Away with that brown shit", at a demonstration against the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, in Hamburg, Germany, Feb 25, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Demonstrations against the far-right and especially the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, took place in at least 12 German cities on Sunday, with the largest in Hamburg, the country's second-largest city, attracting 50,000 people.

Protesters rallied under a banner reading "We are the firewall — together against right-wing extremism", which alluded to the longstanding understanding in German politics that parties will not align with the far-right; a practice that has been in place since the end of World War II, reported Deutsche Welle News.

Around 20,000 people assembled in Dresden, capital of eastern Germany's Saxony, which is known as a strongholds of far-right populism, along with other former states of the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany.

Germany has witnessed a surge of protests against the far-right in response to a report, published by the Correctiv investigative outlet in January that disclosed a meeting last year where far-right extremists discussed the deportation of millions of immigrants.

Urged by organizers to rise up in defense of democracy, anti-right protesters marched through cities including Konstanz in the far south and Kiel in the far north, joining demonstrations that have spanned weeks and attracted millions of participants, prompting the government to introduce further measures against the far-right.

The AfD, initially a eurosceptic party when it was established in 2013, first gained entry into the German Bundestag in 2017.

The party experienced a surge of support in national polling earlier this year, attracting 23 percent support after previously recording 10.3 percent of votes in 2021's federal election.

But the party has faced a dip in popularity since the controversial news report, setting up a pivotal test of its influence in the upcoming state elections in Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia, with other parties declaring they will not engage in alliances with the AfD.

Separately, within the European Union, farmers and agricultural producers are voicing discontent against escalating costs, stringent environmental regulations, pricing complications, an influx of inexpensive imports, and various challenges stemming from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Farmers across Europe have engaged in tractor protests in Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Brussels and Paris, along with roadblocks in Poland, citing perceived unfair treatment by politicians, and raising worries about the possible hijacking of their demonstrations by far-right factions.

At the Paris International Agricultural Show on Saturday, France's President Emmanuel Macron accused protesters of aiming for chaos and promoting the agenda of the far-right National Rally party.

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