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Germany before a cold winter: The Germans get the gas bill – and get angry

The Germans get the gas bill – and get angry

Posted today at 11:00 am

German media are full of reports in which fathers or senior citizens despair. About the fact that they should pay 1200 euros in advance for their gas instead of 120 – per month. Even if the costs “only” double or triple for many of the 30 million gas consumers in the country, the horror runs deep.

Many people on low incomes fear that they will no longer be able to pay their bills and will sooner or later lose their homes. It is just as bad for some craft businesses, such as bakeries, which are supposed to pay 75,000 euros a month in advance for their gas ovens instead of 6,000. Many small businesses fear for their existence.

Who is to blame for the mess?

According to economists, the extreme costs of electricity, oil and gas are now having a full impact on the entire economy and society. Energy prices are making life more expensive on all levels, leading many households to consume less to make ends meet. Overall, experts expect a severe recession. Finance Minister Christian Lindner warns of an “avalanche” heading towards Germany. Their power is still underestimated.

What is new is that many Germans no longer blame Vladimir Putin or the blue-eyed energy policies of previous German governments for the misery, but rather the current one. The anger hits the green economy and Energy Minister Robert Habeckwho was just about ebulliently received by the media and the public hailed as the “next chancellor”. became. Now the sarcastic hashtag DankeHabeck is thriving.

Greens crash, AfD benefits

In any case, the Greens have already fallen from 25 to 20 percent in the polls, the SPD and the FDP are stagnating at 19 and 7 percent, respectively. If elected now, the traffic light coalition would probably lose its majority. Habeck, who was the country’s most popular politician for months, has fallen back significantly, and his skills have practically halved. Particularly alarming is the finding that 60 percent of those surveyed no longer trust any party to solve Germany’s problems.

Apart from the opposition Christian Democrats, the growing resentment has so far mainly benefited the alternative for Germany. It is already at 13 percent in the polls – as high as it was last in 2019. The party is calling for mass demonstrations against “energy madness” for the beginning of October, with which it also wants to castigate the “economic war” against Russia allegedly instigated by the government without need . For its part, the Left Party brings outraged people onto the streets every Monday, especially in the east of the country, where the anger is particularly great and loud this time.

No higher taxes, no new debts: Christian Lindner, finance minister and head of the FDP, has made a commitment.

In the past few months, the traffic light government has already put together three packages totaling 100 billion euros, to relieve citizens. One-time payments of 300 euros per person are just as important as heating subsidies for people on low incomes or higher child benefits.

So far, however, the most urgent measures are planned: cost caps for electricity and gas. It is planned that the “basic needs” of households will be artificially cheap, everything that goes beyond that but has to be paid for at market prices. The caps are to be financed on the one hand by “accidental profits” that the state wants to skim off from some energy companies, and on the other hand by the state itself. The matter is complicated, among other things, because the EU is planning something similar and the energy markets across Europe are highly integrated.

Battle for the debt brake

In addition, a deep ideological rift runs through the coalition. While the Social Democrats and the Greens absolutely want more relief and are prepared to tax top incomes more heavily or to suspend the debt brake again, Lindner’s FDP is strictly against both. And because this fundamental conflict cannot be resolved, the coalition partners are now fighting over every detail. The fact that sensitive elections are also taking place in Lower Saxony on October 9 further increases the nervousness.

Many economists believe additional aid is needed. In addition to the covers, a kind of rescue package is needed in particular – not only for large, but also for small and medium-sized companies. If this, as is estimated, costs another 100 billion, Finance Minister Lindner’s sacred promise – no higher taxes, no new debts – would probably no longer be kept. Since Christian Democrats like Markus Söder have recently been calling for the debt brake to be suspended again, it is slowly becoming “lonelier around me”, complains the FDP leader. Difficult months lie ahead not only for the Liberals, but for the entire government.

Dominique Eigenmann has been Germany correspondent in Berlin since 2015. After studying German and philosophy in Zurich and Paris, he began writing for the Tages-Anzeiger in 1994.More info @eigenmannberlin

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The article is in German

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