Germany’s Winter of Discontent

Hundreds of farmers from nearby communities kick off a weeklong strike to protest the government’s plan to cut agricultural subsidies by blocking roads in Cologne, Germany, on January 8.
Ying Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Germany’s Winter of Discontent

Germany’s economic figures, and support for its government, are falling rapidly.

Every few days brings more bad news from Germany. Its economy shrank by 0.3 percent last year, making it the worst performing economy in the eurozone. Its manufacturing industry, long a source of national pride, has fallen by over 10 percent in the last five years. It has lost cheap energy and raw materials from Russia, and its car industry is losing out in the shift to electric vehicles.

Employees at state-run institutions are engaging in massive strikes. German train drivers announced a six-day strike—their longest ever—estimated to cost over €1 billion (us$1.1 billion). The strike ended a few days early after they compromised with Deutsche Bahn, the state-owned railway company.

The government was hit with a major blow in its attempts to balance the budget last year. It had planned on repurposing unused money from a covid emergency fund, but Germany’s constitutional court ruled that illegal. So it tried to balance the budget in part by removing tax reliefs for farmers.

This ignited a new protest movement: 30,000 people and 5,000 tractors arrived in Berlin last week, blocking roads and generally making themselves heard. Other farmers shut down cities across the country. This week they focused on blocking ports.

As inconvenient as this may be, most support the farmers. A Berliner Zeitung survey put that support at 65 percent.

The government has tried to brand the farmers as extremists, but they’re clearly not—and the country isn’t buying it.

The government’s financial struggles are set to get worse. Thanks to the court ruling, they’re short another €15 billion for next year’s budget.

Bosch, the world’s largest automotive supplier, just announced they will lay off up to 1,200 people by the end of 2026, with the overwhelming majority of cuts coming within Germany. ZF Friedrichshafen, Germany’s second-largest automotive supplier, said up to 12,000 jobs could go by 2030.

The German government believes green energy is the future—but it’s failing on more than just electric cars. Germany’s only major solar panel manufacturer announced this month that they planned to close up and move to the United States.

These aren’t short-term problems. Germany’s entire economic model relies on cheap, high-quality manufacturing. Yet between 2006 and 2017, electricity prices rose 50 percent. To try to keep prices under control during the Ukraine war, the government spent €1.5 billion a day subsidizing energy costs and propping up suppliers.

As a response, support for Germany’s government is in a free fall. The latest polls show that if elections were held today, the ruling coalition would win just over a quarter of the seats in Parliament. One of the coalition members wouldn’t gain the minimum necessary to make it into parliament.

Increasingly, people are rejecting all the parties. Two new parties were started in recent months: one on the far left but embracing some more generally right-wing policies, like resistance to immigration; and one toward the far right, borrowing from the left.

The only party doing well is the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which began as a euroskeptic party for nerdy economists but has morphed into a far-right group where some leaders praise Adolf Hitler and encourage Germans to be proud of their soldiers’ actions in the two world wars.

The latest polls put the AfD winning 21 percent. Include the numbers favoring far-left parties and nearly one third of Germans say they plan to vote for a party so extreme that the mainstream won’t work with them. At this level of support, it seems impossible to keep the extremes out of government.

We’ve been warning about Germany’s political and economic woes for years. And the problems keep getting steadily worse. Where will it end?

German writer Niklas Frank told the Trumpet several years ago that as long as Germans “are well fed and have their income and have their life, they are very satisfied with someone like Ms. Merkel. … If the stability is breaking down, it has, I would say, five, six years, then our society would really change …. As long as we are dominating Europe with our industry, everything is OK. But if they dare to take away our money, then it will become dangerous.”

Germany is quickly losing its industrial domination. Voters sense that things are falling apart around them. One third of voters are embracing parties previously considered beyond the pale. That’s not to say all these voters are Nazis. They’re not. The elites in office—out of touch and unwilling to listen to anyone with different views on the economy, the environment or immigration—are the more dictatorial. But thanks to their failed reign, Germans are becoming desperate for change: to the point that they’ll vote for a party that has a different view of the Nazis than we’ve seen in postwar German politics.

“I want a total change to this system,” one truck driver told Spiked Online. When everything is so dysfunctional, who can blame him?

“Among the protesters, there’s a whiff of revolution,” wrote Spiked. “Not a violent, far-right revolution, of course, but a peaceful, populist one—against the anti-democracy and delusions of the establishment.”

The trouble with revolutions is that those who start them are rarely the ones who finish them. A Napoleon or Lenin with a lot more steel ends up in charge at the end.

Germany’s political and economic system is ripe for major change. Given its history, it would be wise to listen to someone like Niklas Frank on where that change could lead.

And it would be wise to listen to the source of the Trumpet’s forecasting on this issue: the Bible. Revelation 17 is a detailed prophecy of a “beast,” or empire, rising up in modern Europe. It is led by 10 kings, not presidents. This alone implies major change coming to Germany. Other scriptures discuss the rise of a strongman in the heart of Europe.

This is where the discontent is leading. As has happened so many times before, in times of economic turmoil and political dysfunction, Germans will turn to a strong leader.

To understand and prove these prophecies for yourself, read our Trends article “Why the Trumpet Watches the Rise of a German Strongman.”