NewsGerman farmers blockade ferry, Deputy Chancellor Habeck stranded amid austerity protest

German farmers blockade ferry, Deputy Chancellor Habeck stranded amid austerity protest

Robert Habeck
Robert Habeck
Images source: © Getty Images | SeanGallup
11:33 AM EST, January 5, 2024

According to the Associated Press, the farmers gathered at the Schluttsiel quayside on Thursday afternoon. The Deputy Chancellor, also serving as the Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate, Robert Habeck, was on a private visit to the small island of Hooge. Upon the ferry's arrival, the farmers prevented the politician from disembarking.

The police estimated a crowd of 250 to 300 people participating in the protest. The law enforcement officers reported heightened tensions among the protestors, leaving no room for dialogue between the farmers and the Deputy Chancellor. Around 30 demonstrators attempted to board the ship, but they were repelled by the police using pepper spray. The ferry, with Habeck onboard, was forced to depart. The politician embarked on shore later in the night.

In December, the government led by Olaf Scholz revealed their plan to reduce agricultural subsidies. This proposed cutback is part of the austerity plan with the goal of bridging a budget gap of around 17 billion euros (equivalent to $19.3 billion), as reported by the AP. In response, farmers organized protests in Berlin and announced further demonstrations.

Steffen Hebestreit, spokesperson for Olaf Scholz, used platform X (formerly Twitter), to voice their opinion about the ferry blockade. He labeled the farmers' actions "disgraceful" and said it "undermines the principles" of a democratic society. Along similar lines, the German Minister of Justice, Marco Buschmann, denounced the protest as violent, reiterating that this type of behavior is not acceptable in political disputes.

The German Farmers' Association also condemned the blockade. 'Personal attacks, abuses, threats, coercion, or violence are simply out of place,' the Association's chairman, Joachim Rukwied, stated.

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