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German protesters block atom waste

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Issue 1741

Anger at nuclear threat

German protesters block atom waste

ANTI-NUCLEAR protesters clashed with police in Germany this week as they tried to block the transport of nuclear waste. Some 16,000 people demonstrated in Luneberg on Saturday. Thousands more gathered on Tuesday. The main protests were planned for Wednesday as Socialist Worker went to press.

The German government launched one of the biggest police mobilisations since the Second World War to try to prevent protesters from blockading the rail transports.

Some 30,000 police and troops tried to hem in protesters, and broke up campsites at the weekend where thousands of people had gathered. But local people opened their homes to the protesters and provided them with food. School students occupied to provide people with somewhere to sleep. Even many farmers joined the protest, blockading the road with 300 tractors. Churches provided refuge and church wardens handed out tea and coffee. The police and government response has infuriated the protesters and shocked public opinion.

The government is led by the Social Democrats, equivalent to the Labour Party in Britain, and includes the Greens as a junior partner. Three years ago, leading Green figures such as Joschka Fischer and Jurgen Trittin helped lead similar protests against the transport of uranium and plutonium.

Now Fischer is foreign minister and Trittin is environment minister. They have set their face against the protests. Despite that, large numbers of Green members joined the blockades this week. Veterans of anti-nuclear protests in the early 1980s linked arms with young demonstrators.

And people drew the links between the nuclear power industry and multinationals The blockades and the police reaction have added to the growing sense of radicalisation in Germany.

  • Eyewitness report by Hans Krause

Vote slide

TWO regional elections in Germany have shown the depth of disillusionment with official politics, particularly with the leaders of the Greens. Ten million people were eligible to vote in Rhineland Palatinate and Baden Wurtemberg. The turnout in both elections was down sharply.

The Greens only just managed to secure the 5 percent needed to get seats in the state parliaments. Their vote was down 4 percent in Baden Wurtemberg, once a strong area for them. Their electoral slide is wholly down to the right wing positions adopted by Green representatives in government. The Nazi Republikaner party fell below the 5 percent hurdle there.

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