NRW Campaign Protests: ‘You could have been dumped long ago in authoritarian states’

sSome police officers even stand on the outside balcony of Cologne Cathedral, staring into the depths of Runkaliplatz. The area between the cathedral and the museum has been obscured by dozens of officials. There appeared a makeshift rest area for the Social Democrats, with lattice elements, a huge white canopy, and the splendid chapel behind the stage. Whistles can be heard at a distance, like annoying tinnitus.

These are turbulent times, the election campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia has repeatedly suffered from a sound disruptor with protest posters. The last SPD rally on Friday afternoon is no exception, especially when the Federal Chancellor comes.

Not only Olaf Schultz appears in Cologne. A few hundred meters away, on the Heumarkt, the Greens meet at different times to mobilize people for the final run on Sunday. The Minister of Economy Robert Habeck, as well as Secretary of State for Culture Claudia Roth – and also the protesters from the “new right-wing structures”, as the Green Party calls them, have been announced. Police officers in protective gear also congregate at the Heumarkt in the afternoon and line up in small groups, back to back, with a 360-degree view so that no one can sneak in unnoticed.

Maybe it can be enough for red and green

The Social Democrats start an hour earlier. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil appeared on stage, and so did Prime Ministers Malo Dreyer (Rhineland-Palatinate) and Ank Rellinger (Saarland) to give North Rhine-Westphalia’s top candidate, Thomas Kochati, the final push. The SPD is behind the CDU in opinion polls, but it may still suffice for the Reds and Greens because the Greens can expect a historic double-digit result.

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Klingbeil also creates a good atmosphere when he talks about Russia’s war against Ukraine. “Putin is a war criminal,” says Klingbeil. The Social Democrats cheer, and the protesters retreat. They shout “war makers.” Two protesters walk back and forth behind the checkpoint, holding a sign that reads, “We make peace without weapons.” A group of Jusos stands in front of him repeatedly, holding their own banner: “Together against the Right”.

Schulz arrives a little later. After saluting on stage, he immediately moved to Ukraine. Schultz says it is “a savage war of aggression against an innocent neighbor only to expand its own power and expand its territory.” Revenge and imperialism should not define the reality in Europe. We will continue to support Ukraine in the fight. The chancellor emphasizes that Ukraine should be able to defend itself, which is why more weapons will be provided. He is not talking about “heavy” weapons.

Sanctions “until there is peace”

Schulz says he spoke to Putin on the phone. What we clearly don’t understand yet is that only one thing makes peace possible. Only if there is an understanding, an agreement, a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia is peace not taken for granted,” Schultz emphasized.

He said the sanctions would continue “until peace prevails”. scholz He speaks loudly, powerfully, and lively, very differently from his last stifled television speech on May 8th.

Scholz appears to be the strongest on the market. “Putin is hurting the citizens of Russia, and Putin is hurting Russia,” says the chancellor. Germany will make itself independent of fossil energies. One will rely on renewable energies and increase the pace there. Schulz also clearly states that there will be no confrontation between NATO and Russia. It means World War III. The rest is campaigning.

For the greens, the bachelorette party is not a concern

Several police cars can be seen en route to the Green Party rally. Heumarkt is lined with outdoor gastronomy. People with beer, fat joints and sundaes can see a lot. Young people sway in the past. One is dressed as Snow White and the others are in black T-shirts that read “I am not the groom. I am only here to drink.” They are not interested in greens. Not even for counter-protest.

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Long before Habek arrives, dozens of people are screaming and scurrying at the barricade indoors in front of the stage. “War promoters,” “go off,” tossing everyone on stage, even the band during breaks. Annoyed by the supporters of the green cling to it. “Be calm, respect me,” an old Green Party supporter said, to no avail. Verbal skirmishes erupted repeatedly.

Marxist-Leninist anti-war flags are displayed; A man wearing a doctor’s coat and holding the sign “Vaccination = a crime”; Another walks around holding a captain’s hat, megaphone and the self-painted poster “Idiots Rule Us Until We Fall.” Elderly women hold up “war advocates” banners, and ribbons of the “Death Rule” movement hang from their necks. A gaunt man yells “Claudia Roth to her death” angrily. Later, when he scared a mother with her children with a deafening whistle and the daughter started crying, the police intervened and took him away from the scene.

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Carnival with royal pairs and medals

They want to shout it out loud to all the speakers on stage. When Claudia Roth takes to the stage, the background noise gets louder. “We’re a lot more than you are, and we’re a lot more toned,” says Roth. It defends arms shipments to Ukraine. It was “a very difficult decision for a party that represents nonviolence”.

“I’m not proud of that either,” Habek says.

Mona Neubauer, the Green Party’s top candidate in the state’s election campaign, is aware of such turmoil and says, “Because we’re a Democrat, you can demonstrate here and whistle. In authoritarian states, you could have been dumped a long time ago. We can stand it as Democrats.”

Election campaign ends in North Rhine-Westphalia-Grenz

Mona Neubauer, Green Party frontrunner

Source: dpa / David Young

Economy Minister Habek says that if you do not help Ukraine, you will be complicit. You should make decisions that you are not proud of. I am not proud of that either, neither in arms shipments to Ukraine nor in trying to drive fossil fuels away from Russia by establishing new fossil fuel energy relationships,” says Habeck critically.

Repeatedly encouraged by supporters of the Greens, they understand Habek’s disagreements and the political path he took. The rally in Cologne is not only a date for an election campaign, but also a kind of self-confidence in difficult times.

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