When do protests work

Researcher predicts new movements : The protest is looking for other ways - legal and illegal

It was a different kind of demo: a week ago, hundreds of signs were lonely on the meadow in front of the Reichstag. “The clock is ticking”, for example, it said. Meanwhile, the climate activists from "Fridays for Future" met online: Despite technical problems, more than 20,000 people followed the speeches of activists, musicians, scientists and authors at peak times. Adhering to distance and hygiene rules was no problem.

The freedom of assembly in Germany has been severely restricted since the beginning of the pandemic. In Berlin, for example, only open-air demonstrations with a maximum of 20 participants were allowed until Sunday, from Monday there will be 50. Mass demonstrations with thousands of participants will not be possible for a long time for reasons of infection protection. Is something building up there?

The Berlin protest researcher Swen Hutter observed the demonstration in Germany during the pandemic. He says: "Motorcade, the" Fridays for Future "signs in front of the Bundestag, mini rallies: The protest is currently looking for other ways."

From Hutter's point of view, however, it could become a problem in the long term if such protests receive little attention. “In the case of physical street protests, there are clear mechanisms for when the media report and when politicians feel compelled to react. The bigger the protest, the more relevant. "

But if the protest cannot take place on the street, but only virtually, ways must be found so that it does not fizzle out there. "Politicians have to take it up anyway." Former pirate politician Christopher Lauer called for a Berlin platform for online demos in the Tagesspiegel.

Even during the corona crisis, social groups want to make their concerns heard. Last week, for example, travel agencies drew attention to their precarious situation during the pandemic - there were small demonstrations in several cities in which the travel agencies demanded a rescue package. A convoy of honking coaches rolled through Dresden.

Protest researcher expects two types of corona protest

The protest researcher Dieter Rucht predicts that two types of corona protest will be seen in the near future: On the one hand, demonstrations by people who are economically or otherwise affected by the corona restrictions. And on the other hand, protests for freedom of assembly per se. "This is a kind of metaprotest, as it is already being discussed in the left-liberal spectrum or in civil rights organizations."

In addition to approved mini-demonstrations, illegal protests can also be observed time and again. On May 1, hundreds of hooded Autonomists played a game of cat and mouse with the police in Berlin. The image of the protests in the corona crisis is determined by the "hygiene demos" in Berlin.

[All current developments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here in our news blog. We will keep you up to date on developments in Berlin in particular.]

In the past few weeks, hundreds of people illegally gathered on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz on Saturdays to protest against the corona restrictions. Increasingly, conspiracy theorists and the right-wing dominate these gatherings. Such protests also took place around Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz on May 1st and 2nd. Protest researcher Rucht believes that it is not clear to all participants in which society they move there: Some people went to these protests because of a cue, but are "completely clueless about which people they are the backdrop for".

More than 4000 demonstrators in Stuttgart

Such anti-lockdown protests can also be observed in other cities. According to the “Stuttgarter Zeitung”, for example, more than 4,000 demonstrators gathered on Saturday for the fifth “Basic Law Vigil” on the Canstatter Wasen, a festival site on the banks of the Neckar in Stuttgart.

Among them were a striking number of people who protested against what they now saw threatened with a "compulsory vaccination". Recently, activists from the right-wing spectrum have increasingly mixed with the participants in the “vigil”, the paper wrote.

A speaker in Stuttgart was the lawyer Ralf Ludwig. He belongs to the new party "Resistance 2020" - although it is unclear whether this already meets the formal criteria for a party. The association opposes, among other things, the corona decisions of the federal government. On the party's website, "Resistance2020" claims to have over 100,000 "registered members". But it looks like everyone who visits the site is counted towards it.

[If you want to have all the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis live on your mobile phone, we recommend our completely redesigned app, which you can download here for Apple devices and here for Android devices.]

Right-wing extremism researcher Matthias Quent is still concerned. “A short time ago I said: So far, the dissatisfied and frustrated, conspiracy tellers, esotericists, anti-vaccination opponents, anti-Semites and right-wing radicals in this country have not formed a collective and therefore the danger is manageable. With, Resistance2020 das that changes now. "

It remains to be seen which protests the pandemic will lead to in the long term. Researcher Hutter predicts that the economic consequences of the corona crisis will lead to severe dislocations in the population and to distribution conflicts. He expects that there will be new protest movements. "And as soon as larger gatherings are allowed again, they will also show up on the street."

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