There have been major protests in Europe this winter. On no other continent has dissatisfaction been as great.
It is a winter of discontent in Europe. In recent weeks, there have been large demonstrations in countries such as Austria, Germany and France. Many of the protests are about opposition to vaccine passports, or other restrictions as a result of the coronary pandemic.
January 2022 was especially bad. Never before have so many demonstrated in protest against corona politics. It shows statistics from the American organization ACLED (see fact box below):
The January wave came after the European Commission introduced vaccine passports on December 21 last year. Many of the demonstrations are aimed precisely at mandatory vaccines.
There have been many large-scale protests in Austria. Austria is in the middle of the tree in vaccine coverage, compared to other European countries. The government has nevertheless proposed using force.
On January 20, the Austrian parliament approved the law. As of Tuesday 1 February, an unvaccinated adult Austrian risks a fine. The fine can be as high as 36,000 Norwegian kroner.
The majority of the population supports the law. But a fairly large minority is protesting vehemently.
1 of 4Foto: Florian Schroetter, AP/NTB Scanpix
Many of the protesters also cross national borders to protest in other EU countries as well. The head of the Austrian Internal Security Service (DNS) Omar Haijawi-Pirchner told AFP on Friday 28 January.
The protesters have ties to right-wing radical groups, he said. The protests lead to people being radicalized. Vaccine resistance is mixed with anti-Semitism.
– This is very, very scary, said Haijawi-Pirchner to AFP.
Macron would annoy
French President Emmanuel Macron has chosen a confrontational line. He has said he will make life difficult for those who choose not to be vaccinated.
– I do not want to annoy the French people. But I actually want to annoy the unvaccinated. And we will continue to do so. That’s the strategy, Macron said in a interview with the newspaper La Parisien in early January.
The president achieved the goal.
In the last month, French vaccine deniers have clearly expressed irritation. Several thousand demonstrated in Paris against the vaccine passport. It was nevertheless passed in the French parliament on Sunday 16 January.
The vast majority of protests in Germany
The vast majority of demonstrations have nevertheless been in Germany. ACLED has registered almost a thousand demonstrations, in January this year alone.
In Germany, too, the protesters have ties to the far right, although a number of different political circles have taken part in the protests. In Leipzig, protesters stormed a university hospital on Saturday this week. According to the news magazine Der Spiegel, several celebrities right-wing extremist activists have participated.
50 people were arrested, among other things for breaking into a psychiatric hospital.
So far, no vaccine coercion has been introduced in Germany. But the government is considering making it mandatory to get vaccinated. Only the right-wing populist party Alternative für Deutschland opposes the use of force.
Right-wing extremist movements have used the pandemic to grow. It was the conclusion when the German security service BfV presented its annual threat assessment in June last year.