Socialist Worker

Protests in Stuttgart put Merkel under pressure

by Stefan Bornost
Issue No. 2223

Plans to replace the central station in Stuttgart, one of Germany’s major cities, have led to mass protests, and a political crisis for the German government.

On 1 October, around 100,000 people took to the streets to protest against a police attack on opponents of the project.

The massive “Stuttgart 21” plan would knock down the existing station, replace it with a new one underground and sell off the land.

Stuttgart 21 is a prestige project that is likely to cost

10 billion euros but brings few benefits, while urgent plans like improving public transport, schools or day care centres are stalled

The day before police had indiscriminately beat protesters, injuring 140 and leaving a pensioner in danger of losing his eyesight.

Tens of thousands of people have protested in front of the central station for weeks to prevent its demolition.

The protests are having an impact. It now looks likely that building work will be suspended for negotiations.

This dispute is also having a big impact on national politics.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has said that any retreat over Stuttgart 21 would undermine her ability to argue with the Greek government that it must stay firm against mass protests over cuts.

There have been small solidarity demonstrations in more than 30 cities across Germany.

The protests have boosted the Greens, who are strongly identified with the protests. For the first time, a poll has put the Greens ahead of the Labour-like Social Democrats.

Many trade unionists and unemployment activists have been encouraged by the Stuttgart 21 protests.

This will make it easier to organise against the spending cuts that will take effect at the end of the year.

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Tue 12 Oct 2010, 18:13 BST
Issue No. 2223
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