You can already see in the morning that something is different in Berlin today. While usually only a few bored policemen stroll through the area in the government district, there is a different picture on Wednesday morning: team van, barriers, blue lights. The officials have cordoned off a large area of the Bundestag.
Just after noon you can see how necessary these measures are. Around a hundred meters from the Brandenburg Gate, within sight of the Reichstag, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have gathered and are huddled against a police barricade. People stand shoulder to shoulder, chest to back, hardly anyone wears a mask.
Members of parliament reported that they were afraid to lock themselves in the offices. How the demonstrators got access raises questions. Actually, Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble had restricted access to the buildings, but apparently members of the AfD have registered them as guests. There is a video circulating on the net that seems to confirm this.
Only a few politicians seek contact with the demonstrators. One of them is the SPD MP Axel Schäfer. He tells NewsABC.net about very different experiences. “I also had good, factual discussions with demonstrators,” he says. However, when another group recognized him, the situation turned. “Only a few wanted to discuss longer than three minutes, many only chanted slogans to me and too many did not wear masks – I refused to talk to them.”
When you talk to demonstrators, you always notice their self-confidence. They are not interested in the fact that almost all experts around the world advise wearing protective masks and warn of the danger posed by the virus. Often the sentence is: “I know many doctors myself …” With this justification, all objections are brushed aside.
The Berlin police report 200 arrests
In the afternoon the Bundestag passed the law with 415 votes in favor, 236 against and eight abstentions. The Federal Council also gave its approval in a special meeting. Nevertheless, there were almost all losers on that day: the police could not prevent meetings from taking place despite massive violations of distance rules and mask requirements. The legitimate concerns of the critics of the Corona policy and especially the Infection Protection Act were lost in the numerous confused heads among the demonstrators.
The image of the Bundestag has also been damaged. A member of the Union parliamentary group, who does not want to be named, said with a view to the barriers and the ranks of the police: “Look what a picture the Bundestag is giving today, it is a fortress.” She was full of conviction for them Reform of the Infection Protection Act, but also says: “We failed to explain the law to people correctly.”
But the other side, the demonstrators, are not blameless either. Many of them don’t even seem to know what they were demonstrating against. Andreas H., a self-employed entrepreneur and family man from Stuttgart, says: “The government can do what it wants with the law.” He reacts in astonishment to the objection that the law gives parliament more say.
It was a day when pretty much everything went wrong – and which will keep Germany busy for a long time to come.