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A Social Researcher Analyzes: The Reasons Behind the Farmer Uprising Being Unrelated to Right-Wing Movement

   

Was the farmers’ protest instrumentalized and driven by right-wing forces?

This is a hypothesis that is refuted by the actual numbers. In October, there were state elections in Bavaria, a federal state that is certainly not insignificant in the agricultural sector.

In these elections, 52 percent of farmers voted for the CSU and 37 percent for the Free Voters. The AfD only received 6 percent of the votes. The rooted farmers vote for forces that are mainly present in the rural communities and openly support them, also within the framework of the protests. Here, the intersections and connections are often significant, sometimes even on a personal level. In this context, the AfD, which could primarily score with federal issues but less with presence in the villages and small towns, is not a relevant force and does not have a corresponding network.

The traffic light coalition, just to add, was almost insignificant for this electoral clientele and could only attract a manageable number of votes.

 

It is simply part of protests that even more extreme forces now also have an interest in profiting from the attention and, figuratively speaking, endeavor to attach their trailer to the moving tractor. However, future infiltration seems unlikely due to the structures.

Why are the farmer protests directed against the traffic light coalition?

There is a concrete cause and a deeper underlying reason. The former can be found in the actual politics of the traffic light coalition, which could massively burden the farmers if it were actually implemented – even if the government has already backtracked somewhat after the initial protests.   

The deeper explanation, however, is to be found in our social structure. Our society is fragmented into many small life realities, each with its own ideas of a proper life. Traditionalists have different views than hedonists. The precariat sees the world through different eyes than the opinion leaders from the socio-ecological milieu.  

It is crucial that the needs of many of these milieus have been ignored and marginalized for years, while others, let’s name post-materialistic values as an example, came to the forefront. Certain ways of life also did not receive the appreciation that would have been appropriate.

This fueled dissatisfaction, the so-called milieu conflicts, which have been simmering for years. These are now erupting as the grand progressive narrative of the previously dominant life realities loses more and more power and partially shatters against reality. The result is milieu struggles that now characterize the present.

The traffic light coalition has now managed to unite many of these milieus, which sometimes have very different worldviews, against itself. Partly self-inflicted, partly the stones were gradually placed in the backpack starting from the beginning of the 2010s and left there. In addition, the global times of changeaus Germany requires a level of dynamism that hardly permits any more political missteps.   

Could the farmer protests ignite a conflagration?

The protests of the farmers differ from, for example, those of the doctors and pharmacists in November 2023 in five ways:

Firstly the issue is not intricate, whereas, for example, the issues with the billing structures in the healthcare system are hardly explainable with a few sentences transparent.  

Secondly the farmers are deeply rooted in rural areas and thus are multipliers, meaning they reach a large number of people very quickly.  

Thirdly significant parts of the political opposition can credibly score with the issue. Therefore, the protests receive support from influential forces in the center.  

Fourthly it’s extremely difficult to push the issue into a political extreme.  

Fifthly there is a tremendous symbolic power, as it is possible to reflect many milieu conflicts and struggles in the issue which are not immediately apparent: inflation, disregard for ways of life, the urban-rural divide, elitist milieus against the rest, and so on – therefore, the subjective and objective discharge potential is vast.  

All of these are reasons why the protests of the farmers could ultimately motivate milieus that do not have such a large intersection with them to become active themselves. Whether this will come to pass remains to be seen. The potential is there, but we are generally a country with a lot of potential.

 

Are protests a path to new elections?

In principle, this government cannot afford to ignore major protests. A stronger one might possibly do so and wait out the situation. The values of the traffic light coalition, depending on surveys, at the moment probably only a third of the people would vote for a traffic light party, are so weak that they must already be perceived as threatening. The coalition is even more poorly regarded.

In addition, there is a political balance sheet that, despite all neutrality and consideration of circumstances and the world situation, cannot be positive. At the moment, the government can present few arguments in its favor and legitimate doubts about whether it is equal to the current situation are valid.

However, for new elections a rupture of the coalition would be needed. At least one of the parties would have to break ranks, perhaps urged to do so by its own base. Realistically analyzed, however, every component of the traffic light has more to lose than to gain.   

Frequently Asked Questions on this topic


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