Tens of thousands of people marched in capital cities across Europe on Saturday to protest the economic crisis and demand that world leaders act on poverty, jobs and climate change ahead of the G-20 summit in London on Thursday.
In London, protestors chanted "tax the rich, make them pay" as they marched, waving banners that read "People before Profit." In Germany, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people took to the streets in Berlin, Frankfurt and other cities, but most of the protestors were trade unionists and left-wing activists. The broad mass of people stayed at home or went shopping.
That's because Germans haven't felt the full force of the economic crisis yet, despite foreboding economic statistics. At present, many people are still resorting to putting workers on short-time rather than laying them off, and parts of the auto industry -- which accounts for one in five jobs in Germany, is being shored up by the so-called scrapping bonus -- a €2,500 tax-free payment for people who scrap their old vehicles when buying a new car.
Center-left Frankfurter Rundschau writes:
"Half a year after the collapse of Lehman the sense of horror about the reckless behavior on financial markets and in the banking sector remains strong, and hasn't been alleviated by the shameless cashing-in of many top players. Not everyone has lost out, and some are even getting well paid for their failure. Given the impact on society it's astonishing that the storm of protest hasn't been more evident on the streets."
Left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes:
"Despite the increasingly dramatic figures from the financial and the real economy, people aren't yet feeling the impact in their everyday lives. In addition, the origins of the crisis are as complicated as the proposed solutions, which makes it harder to come up with simple slogans and to motivate people. Still, the fact that visible protests have taken place is a signal in and of itself."
Conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
"Several tens of thousands of people demonstrated for a fairer world economy over the weekend -- not peacefully everywhere. That's likely to mark the start of a turbulent G-20 summit in London. Security forces in London have been advising bankers to go to work without wearing ties this week. Even though the anger is understandable, things shouldn't go that far in a democratic state."
"It's OK for greedy bankers to feel uncomfortable in their golf clubs or when they're out shopping. But they mustn't be physically threatened. People who demand decency must behave decently. That applies to both sides."