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Young and old protest against nuclear power in Germany

thousands of young people joined in as well, along with many middle-of-the road Germans who had never been at a protest before….the protest is a strong signal that a broad spectrum of Germans is opposed to extending nuclear lifetimes,

Most Germans Don’t Want Nuclear Power’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE , 20 Sept 10, Anti-nuclear campaigners demonstrating in Berlin on Saturday sent a powerful message of opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan to extend the lifetimes of German reactors. Media commentators say she would be unwise to ignore it, because her own supporters don’t want nuclear power either.Tens of thousands demonstrated in central Berlin on Saturday against plans by the government to extend the lifetimes of Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations by an average of 12 years beyond the originally planned phase-out in 2021.Organizers said the protest drew 100,000 people and was the biggest of its kind in Germany since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Police put the figure much lower, at around 40,000 according to initial estimates.

There were many veterans of Germany’s anti-nuclear movement from the 1970s and 80s armed with vintage banners, but thousands of young people joined in as well, along with many middle-of-the road Germans who had never been at a protest before. Opposition party leaders joined the peaceful march around Berlin’s government district, including Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the heads of the Green and Left parties.

Protests against the extension of reactor lifetimes were fuelled by recent opposition allegations that the German government had made a secret deal with power companies to limit safety costs as part of the lifespan extension.
Opposition parties and environmental campaigners have accused Merkel’s coalition of conservatives and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) of caving in to the energy companies and of putting public safety at risk in order to gain windfall tax revenues from keeping the reactors online longer.

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE published on Monday, Gabriel called for a national referendum on extending the lifespans of the country’s nuclear power plants. “Angela Merkel’s nuclear deal is driving people into the streets because it is a stimulus program for political disaffection when the head of a government cuts a backroom deal with four energy bosses that’s worth hundreds of billions of euros and safety issues for old nuclear plants are sorted out on the side,” Gabriel said. “Those dealings should all be public. … It would be best if the people could vote on the lifespan extension in a referendum.”

German media commentators say that regardless of whether 40,000 or 100,000 turned up to the demonstration on Saturday, the protest is a strong signal that a broad spectrum of Germans is opposed to extending nuclear lifetimes, and that Merkel would be ill-advised to underestimate the strength of that sentiment.

The World From Berlin: ‘Most Germans Don’t Want Nuclear Power’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

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September 21, 2010 - Posted by | Germany, opposition to nuclear | , , ,

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