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Tuesday 16, January

Berlin traffic still blocked as up to 30,000 farmers protest

Monday saw large scale protests with up to 30,000 farmers taking over the centre of Berlin - and they're still coming.

Photo: IMAGO / Marius Schwarz

Tuesday 16, January

30,000 farmers protest in Berlin: City traffic still blocked

The exact number of protestors is disputed. The organisers say there were 30,000, police give the significantly lower number of 8,500. Whichever number is more accurate, though, when a large proportion of those protestors are driving large agricultural vehicles, it makes for a noisy and disruptive demonstration. In the early hours of Monday morning, many Berlin residents were kept awake by the demonstrators playing what you could generously describe as music (think, Baby Shark) on repeat. The entire road on Straße des 17. Juni and Unter den Linden was filled with tractors – and the centre continues to be blocked off.

The farmers are here to protest the planned withdrawal of certain agricultural subsidies by the federal government, and protestors showed their anger with Germany’s ruling “traffic light” coalition of SPD, FDP and Greens with signs bearing messages like “The traffic light must go”. According to posts on social media, more than 100 agricultural vehicles are still on their way to Berlin.

And it wasn’t just farmers expressing their anger. Many freight carriers joined the protest, too. A toll on trucks was increased last December, including a surcharge for emissions of CO2 – a decision which was criticised by industry representatives since they believe there are currently not enough suitable charging stations and power networks to make such logistics traffic effectively climate friendly. As for the precise political make up of the protest, it was decidedly mixed: there were posters for the AfD and right-wing radical organisation Junge Alternative, but also many trucks flying the iconic hammer and compass flags of the DDR. But whatever their politics, they’re not happy.