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“An attempt to delegitimize a protest movement”

WORLD: Should Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) bake smaller rolls this week?</p>Janine Wissler: He seemed a bit tired when he appeared on television.

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“An attempt to delegitimize a protest movement”

WORLD: Should Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) bake smaller rolls this week?

Janine Wissler: He seemed a bit tired when he appeared on television. In the debate about bankruptcy, he got pretty muddled. But the main problem is simply its crisis-solving strategy. It is of course a pretty stupid idea to introduce the gas surcharge, which all consumers who happen to be heating with gas should then pay. The tenants have absolutely no control over it.

And at the same time, people were replacing their oil heaters, and now there's a regulation that the energy companies who benefit from it, who don't have to be saved because they make stupid and stupid earnings, also helped to write it. This is of course totally wrong politically. And he is rightly criticized for that.

WORLD: I still remember the selfie of Volker Wissing (FDP), Annalena Baerbock (Greens), Christian Lindner (FDP) and Habeck after the election. It was said at the time that a new style of politics was coming. Did it surprise you that Habeck was getting help from energy companies when it came to writing the law?

Wissler: It didn't come as a complete surprise to me, even when you see where one or two Green MPs went after their political careers.

"7 Days, 7 Nights" is the political weekly with Frédéric Schwilden. Every Friday he welcomes a political guest to a slightly different weekly review. Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Deezer, Google Podcasts or via RSS feed, among others.

WORLD: When you discuss legislative proposals and ideas with your party, do you also consult with corporations and interest groups, right?

Wissler: Of course, you also exchange ideas with people from outside the party. But the question is, who is it and how balanced is it? We try very hard to develop things with trade unions, environmental organizations and initiatives. At hearings, it is right to also hear different perspectives from trade unions, companies and associations.

But there has never been a scandal that an unemployed initiative sat in the Ministry of Labor and wrote the ordinance. There is no equality of arms.

One is companies with tons of money that hire a horde of people to lobby in the Bundestag or the European Parliament. The food banks or other initiatives don't even have the financial means for this.

WORLD: A party colleague of yours from the Berlin House of Representatives called the federal government’s third relief package a declaration of war on the poorest. Would you agree with that?

Wissler: 65 billion sounds really massive and big. But the package is unbalanced and unsustainable. Although there are of course good points in it. The fact that pensioners and students are now being taken into account is due to the pressure from the public debate and the protests that have been announced and are already taking place.

We also think the extended housing benefit is right because it helps people. But it would be better if we capped the rents. We don't want rents to continue to explode and high rents to be subsidized by housing benefit.

Another problem is that one-off payments simply fizzle out. People don't get through the winter on 300 euros. In addition, the 9-euro ticket has expired, and the high fares are coming back. And at the same time the problem is that the federal government is not approaching a real profit tax on the gas price.

WORLD: At a demonstration on Monday in Berlin, a party colleague demanded that the energy supply should be in the public domain. Is this a good idea?

Wissler: Yes. Energy supply is part of public services of general interest and therefore belongs under the democratic control of the public sector. That means municipal utilities, remunicipalisation or energy cooperatives.

The crisis has shown that large corporations are able to block climate protection and the energy transition. The pandemic has shown it's just a bad idea to privatize hospitals because they say hospitals need to be profitable. Therefore energy and health care in the public sector.

WORLD: But hasn't the past two years shown that the state is worse off than private companies when it comes to such things? The state has made Germany dependent on Russian gas.

Wissler: The criticism is justified. Germany brought itself into this situation with its eyes wide open. We could have been with 100 percent renewables, at least in the electricity sector, and then we wouldn't have the problems. These are the consequences of failed politics.

But still, I think such things belong in public hands. Stock corporations always aim to make a profit. But in hospitals, for example, the interests of patients and employees should come first. And if the local municipal utilities now make profits from wind energy, then they should use it locally in the community. For the city library or for the swimming pool.

WORLD: You have just called for a demonstration in Frankfurt. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser from the SPD, however, warns again, as in January, against demonstrations: "Enemies of democracy are just waiting to abuse crises." Is the interior minister trying to put legitimate protests in the right-wing corner?

Wissler: It's an attempt to delegitimize a protest movement that's just starting out. It is clear, the situation is dramatic. Even before this crisis we had 14 million people in this country living in poverty. They didn't know how to make ends meet before, and now there's more to come. People who are average earners and whose gas bill triples, the rent goes up.

I think protests are important and right, and they are a fundamental right. And you can't do an attitude test at a demonstration. But it is clear that we cannot tolerate right-wing slogans, right-wing banners and symbols at demonstrations.

But it shouldn't be the case that protests are no longer called for as soon as any Nazi side comes along. That's not the solution to the problem. We must not surrender the streets to the Nazis now, neither on Monday nor on any other day of the week.

Jürgen Elsässer listens to Gregor Gysi, right-wingers, SED successors and many from the angry center demonstrate in Leipzig. Who owns the “Monday Demos” this fall? A fight shows at the end that the right-left pattern still works, at least in street fighting.

Source: WELT/ Martin Heller

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.

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