By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden, Hessen
Last month a student protest was announced: MARCH ON WIESBADEN.
Wiesbaden is the capital of the state of Hessen where the powerful economic Rhine-Main region is located. It is also where the wise-men who guide the German economy have been situated since 1963. Now, the German voters from various states are up in arms at Germanys traditional economic and government policies.
Today nearly 10,000 students took to the streets in the Hessen capital of Wiesbaden after continued delays in more effective reform for education in Hessen (and neighbouring states) have now combined with the Hessen governments current plans to cut 79 million Euros from the education budget for the Hessen state each of the next four years. The largely peaceful protest was lively and colorful. However, it stopped traffic for over an hour in downtown Wiesbaden as police and public transport were surprised by the turnout from students--coming from as far away as Kassel and Marburg.
Despite the lack of violence, the students and the faculty marching this afternoon through the streets of Wiesbaden looked every bit as committed to their cause "fighting injustice and bad policy" as their Greek student and worker counterparts in Athens--on the other end of the continent--are doing. Voters in Germany are becoming similarly militant in 2010.
Interestingly, as part of my American study efforts, earlier in the Spring, I had shown my students in both Wiesbaden and in Mainz (in the state of the Rhineland-Palatinate across the river) episodes of Democracy Now episode from March 4 and March 5 2010 & describing the global student protest movements, especially in California, in 2009-2010.
Those episodes of news-reporting in the USA echoed what has been happening to students in Germany over the past decade. By the way, last November Germany saw the largest number of student protests since 1968. People are asking why are the poor and the necessary facets of the economy being punished while bankers and financiers get money across Europe?
This is all why that the German government coalition, consisting of conservatives and liberals, took a beating on Sunday in the largest German state of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW)--i.e. just after agreeing to another billion-Euro bail-out of the Euro just after a 120-billion Euro bail-out of the Greek economy the week before. Until the major defeat on Sunday, that same German governing coalition had been proposing major tax cuts for the wealthy half of the German economy.
Naturally, the savvy Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately canceled those plans for tax cuts for the wealthy after the earthquake-like defeat by NRW voters.
Incidentally, this was the worst election result in the history of the conservative party (CDU/CSU) in Germany since WWII. It was obviously a sign that the German citizenry are becoming tired, too, of the status quo and this rise in youthful (and voter) protests is likely to be a sign of a long hot summer in German politics.