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Friday, December 09, 2022

Anti-inflation raises risk of unrest in Europe

LONDON ( Associated Press) – In Romania, protesters played horns and drums to show their frustration with the rising cost of living. Citizens took to the streets in France to demand a wage increase in line with inflation. Czech protesters protested against the government’s handling of the energy crisis. British railway workers and German pilots went on strike demanding higher wages amid rising prices.

Across Europe, rising inflation has sparked a wave of protests and strikes, highlighting growing dissatisfaction with the rising cost of living and threatening to set off political instability. As Britain’s prime minister is forced to resign after less than two months in office, his economic plans wreak havoc on financial markets and further damage a weakening economy, while the risks to political leaders are clear. Population demands measures.

Europeans have seen skyrocketing energy bills and food prices because of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Although the price of natural gas fell from record highs in the summer and governments have allocated an incomparable amount of 576,000 million euros (over $566,000 million) for energy support for homes and companies since September 2021, according to a Bruegel study in Brussels. This is not enough for the Centre, some protesters.

The price of energy has driven up inflation in 19 countries whose currency is the euro at a record 9.9%, making it difficult for people to buy the things they need. Some see no choice but to go out.

“Today, people are forced to use coercive tactics to get a pay increase”, said Rachid Ochem, a doctor who was among more than 100,000 people protesting in several French cities this week.

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According to risk consultant Verisk Mapplecroft, the outcome of the war in Ukraine markedly increased the risk of civil unrest on the continent. European leaders have strongly supported Ukraine by sending arms and promising, or forcing, to give up cheap Russian oil and natural gas, but the transition has not been smooth and threatens to undermine public support.

“There is no quick solution to this energy crisis,” said Torbjörn Solvet, an analyst at Verisk Maplecroft. “And if anything, it looks like inflation may be worse next year than this year.”

That means the relationship between economic pressure and popular opinion about the war in Ukraine “will be really tested,” he said.

In France, which has one of the lowest inflation rates in the eurozone at 6.2%, railway and transport workers, secondary school teachers and hospital workers responded on Tuesday to calls from an oil workers union to demand a wage hike and a strike by refineries. Government intervention should be opposed. Workers who have caused gasoline shortages.

Days later, thousands of Romanians protested in Bucharest against the price of energy, food and other basic products, which organizers say is driving millions of workers into poverty.

In the Czech capital Prague, a crowd last month called for the resignation of a pro-Western coalition, criticizing its support for EU sanctions on Russia. In addition, he pointed to the executive for not doing enough to help homes and businesses affected by the energy surge.

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Although another protest has been called in Prague next week, the mobilization has not yet made political changes and the coalition won a third of the seats in the upper house of parliament in this month’s elections.

In Great Britain, railway workers, nurses, port workers and lawyers, among other groups, have staged a series of strikes in recent months to demand increases in wages that allow them to adjust for inflation that reaches 10.1%. Which is its worst data in 40 years.

Protests by Lufthansa pilots in Germany and recent attacks on trains not running and workers at other airlines and airports across the continent in search of better pay have paralyzed air traffic.

Truss’s failed economic stimulus plan, which included sweeping tax cuts and multimillion-dollar aid for the energy bills of homes and businesses without a clear plan to subsidize them, illustrates the complex situation in which governments find themselves. .

“They have little room to maneuver,” Saltvet said.

The luck has been that, so far, the month of October has been lighter than usual, which means less demand for fuel for heating homes, the analyst said.

But “if there is an unexpected disruption in gas supplies from Europe this winter, we are likely to see a further increase in civil unrest, risk and government instability,” he said.

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