The number of participants in a public demonstration in Stralsund against the German federal government’s energy policy exceeded all expectations on Wednesday evening, mainly due to a call from the city’s mayor, Alexander Badrow, for participation.
Authorities estimated the number of participants at around 4,000 — only 300 people were initially registered. Even during the Monday demonstrations, the police last counted just 400 people in the city of 59,000 on the Baltic Sea — now 10 times as many came.
The unexpectedly large protest against German energy policy may foreshadow growing discontent in the east of Germany, with security officials already warning that mass protests and even civil unrest could hit the country this winter over rising inflation and industiral chaos.
The Old Market, the square in front of the Hanseatic city’s town hall, was well filled during the demonstration. The participants showed posters against the Economy Minister Robert Habeck saying: “Gas surcharge – you won’t get that, old man.” The demonstrators also called for an end to sanctions against Russia and the opening of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, according to the Junge Freiheit news outlet.
Stralsund Mayor Alexander Badrow promoted participation by sharing the appeal of the Citizens for Stralsund initiative on his Facebook page, and the CDU politician was one of the demonstrators himself.
The Ministry of the Interior of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, led by Christian Pegel, is now checking whether the mayor violated his duty of neutrality with the Facebook post. However, a spokesman for the local CDU pointed out that Badrow’s Facebook presence is private.
At the demonstration, the mayor wore a T-shirt that read “Alexander” on the front and “Private” on the back. In their appeal, the initiators called for taxpayers to be relieved and immediate government resignations. So far, the Ministry of the Interior has not published the result of its examination. It remains unclear whether and with which sanctions the mayor has to reckon.
Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has remained opposed to Russia sanctions, and is calling for the opening of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, is holding a protest in Berlin on Oct. 8 against government policy and sanctions. The party has recently seen a substantial bump in polling as of late as at least some Germans grow increasingly wary about sanctions on Russia.