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Children's book author Robert Habeck has called for a new gas tax. Wikipedia

German media ignore the growing AfD elephant in the room

The current reporting in the German mainstream press is surprisingly calm if one looks at the current poll numbers of the various parties. If any loss of percentage points is otherwise celebrated when it concerns the AfD, there is now total silence from mainstream parties.

Published: August 16, 2022, 8:42 am

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    The current election polls for the Bundestag election see a strengthening of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). In some cases, the young opposition force reaches the same numbers as two-and-a-half years ago.

    The YouGov research institute gave the AfD 14 percentage points in the August 12 survey, while Infratest dimap sees it at 13 percent. In their most recent surveys, INSA and Forschungsgruppe Wahlen each assumed 12 percentage points.

    Real concerns are dismissed as coming from ‘extremist forces’

    Where did this upswing come from? The noticeable, but also the still to be expected consequences of the Ukraine war seem to be casting their shadows. Voters are beginning to get restless which has always been the ideal breeding ground for a protest party. The feared crises in autumn and winter could bring further turmoil to Germany’s party political landscape, as the AfD’s poll numbers continue to rise.

    The Thuringian Interior Minister Georg Maier has warned of massive protests in the east of Germany in view of inflation and the energy crisis. Something is currently brewing that “worries me,” the SPD politician told German daily Die Welt. He feared that in the coming months “above all, extremist forces will mobilize in the streets. At least that’s what the findings of the security authorities indicate”.

    Extremists and anti-vaxxers were often behind this mobilization, said Maier. “These forces want to scare the population even more.” However, they are not concerned with legitimate protests against higher energy prices, “but with creating contempt for the government and our democracy”. They want to convince people “that there must be another, authoritarian form of government in Germany”.

    Lies, lies, lies

    Reasons for the growing dissatisfaction with the Greens, SPD and old Merkel Atlanticists, are actually not hard to find – there are too many. They include disdain for the obvious lies of the SPD Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, the plain untruths of Greens Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (who opposes the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, is an opponent of nuclear power and China and faked her research and academic credentials), as well as continued government support for illegal immigration and the corrupt and criminal leaders of Ukraine.

    Indeed, the sheer number of misrepresentations and corrupt officials are hard to keep track of.

    According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK), led by Robert Habeck for example, “the German pension level is one of the highest in the world”. The BMWK claimed this manifest fakery on Twitter.

    On the social media platform, users harshly criticized an interview with Habeck (who also serves as Vice Chancellor) in the Süddeutsche Zeitung that was distributed by the ministry.

    In truth, pensioners in Germany only get 51 percent of their last salary. This is the result of a worldwide comparative OECD study. Accordingly, a retiree in Italy receives an average of 90 percent of the last wage, in Austria it is 89 percent and in Spain 83 percent. Even Brazil, India and China are far ahead of Germany. The average for all countries is 12 points higher, at 63 percent.

    According to official information from the German pension insurance (DRV), the pension level in Germany is only 49,4 percent.

    Ignoring evidence

    “Mr. Habeck, you don’t seem to know the economic data, Germany has slipped a long way in international comparison, we have the worst pensions, schools and infrastructure are ailing and debt is increasing,” Renate Apfelthaler tweeted. The Ministry then countered: “That is not true. The German economy is stable, the German pension level is one of the highest in the world and German debt is comparatively lower.”

    Twitter users again objected. Some spoke of “fake news”, others forwarded the OECD table, and one wrote: “If that is really the belief and ‘knowledge’ of the ministry, then I am really panicking now.”

    The Habeck Ministry did not delete the tweet with the obvious false claim. Even three days after it was distributed, they simply persisted in ignoring the evidence.

    More taxes

    The Economics Ministry sees the new gas tax at 2,419 euro cents per kilowatt hour as a result of the Ukraine war. This has drastically exacerbated the already tense situation on the energy markets.

    The ordinance is to come into effect on October 1 and end on April 1, 2024. All gas consumers are to pay the surcharge in order to “stabilize” gas importers who have gotten into difficulties due to EU sanctions against Russia. It means a huge additional financial burden for consumers.

    The newly planned gas tax will bail out twelve gas importers to the tune of 34 billion euros. This was announced by the Federal Ministry of Economics on Monday. The total sum relates to the allocation period until the beginning of April 2024 and corresponds to 90 percent of the expected replacement costs for this period.

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