An expression is repeated in the media and certain political circles in Germany for weeks: “hot autumn”. With it, journalism and politics intend to summarize what the country could face if the worst scenarios materialize; namely, social unrest and political instability if inflation continues to rise, if the energy crisis hardens, if recession ends up arriving, and if, in the worst case, the lack of energy generates an industrial collapse, at least partial, which could lead to higher unemployment and shortages of certain products.
The voices of the federal government are contradictory. While the foreign minister, the green annalena baerbockwas not shy about acknowledging this summer that the German authorities could effectively deal with a wave of protests during the autumn and winter months, the Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been repeating that the country will maintain harmony and will prevail social cohesiondespite the fact that the majority of the German population has already lost substantial purchasing power.
“We have already seen that the population is quite affected by the crises. We are faced with a superimposition of crises that lead people to be insecure and worried, in which the lower economic strata have real existential concerns and among the middle classes there are also real fears of losing social status. The state of mind is clearly unstable and is also marked by fear,” he assures El PERIÓDICO. Jana Fausco-founder of the polling agency Pollytix.
Opportunity for AfD
That insecurity is already beginning to be projected in the voting intention polls. The far right of Alternative for Germany (AfD), for example, has been rebounding for weeks. Some projections already place the ultra party above 13%. AfD, eaten away by internal fights, had been languishing for several years around 10% of voting intentions. The current situation, riddled with uncertainties and aggravated by a communication policy of the Government that is quite improvable, is thus presented as a golden opportunity for the German extreme right.
A Pollytix analysis also warns of another danger with which Germany already has decades of experience: the willingness to use violence among the militants of extremist groups, specifically, of the far right and the militant neo-Nazism.
Another opposition party joining the “hot autumn” dialectic is The Left, a coalition of post-communist East Germans and former West German social democrats. The formation, which was about to be left out of the Bundestag in the last federal elections last September, tries to gain a political profile and go back in voting intentions with a social discourse that demands greater coverage for the working classes, the retired and the unemployed. . The Left and AfD agree on the use of certain expressions regarding the crisis facing Germany, although from opposing political positions.
double digit inflation
In a country with a historical fear of price increasethe inflation it approached 11% in September, the highest figure in several decades. “We are facing a ‘stagflation’that is, the combination of a stagnant economy or even in decline and a high inflation. It is a crisis generated by the lack of supply. In recent years we used to be used to crises generated by lack of demand. But now we have a lack of supply of goods, especially serious in energy and value added chains. A ‘stagflation’ is very bad news, because politics can do much less than in the face of weak demand, ”says Clemens Fuest, president of the Ifo.
From the start of the Russian invasion of Ukrainethe Scholz’s government has approved three aid packages for citizens and companies that combines direct transfers with tax relief. To do this, it has mobilized around 95,000 million euros. However, the assessment of the tripartite government of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals continues to fall, which indicates a crisis of confidence towards the authorities in a volatile and unpredictable situation, something that irritates German citizens, who love certainties.
The experts consulted by this newspaper doubt that this “hot autumn” will end up translating into social unrest and political instability, although they do not minimize the social impact of inflation and take for granted a wave of social protests, the magnitude of which is still difficult to predict. Alexander Kriwoluzky, head of macroeconomic analysis at the DIW institute, gives a European dimension to his predictions: “In Germany the situation will probably be controllable. It will be much more difficult in Italy, where we have elections and it is quite possible that a non-pro-European government will come to power. The economic situation there may worsen once again, so if something develops in Italy, it will also come to Germany at some point.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.