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Germany

Protests' Organizers Withdraw Support

Following a weak turnout in the latest demonstrations to protest Germany's welfare cuts, one of the organizers of the Monday marches has said it will no longer urge people to participate.

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The demonstrations have shrunk in recent weeks

The anti-globalization group Attac, which has helped organize the weekly protests against the coming labor market and welfare reforms, will cease calling on demonstrators after one last big protest planned for the weekend.

"We must get away from this fixation on the Monday demonstrations," Attack member Peter Wahl told the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel. "The west has not reacted. The spark hasn't carried over."

In an interview with the paper published on Tuesday, Wahl said people in eastern Germany wouldn't achieve anything if they continued to protest without the support of the west.

Dwindling numbers

A month ago, Attac estimated that as many as 150,000 people nation-wide were taking part in the protests. But this week, that number had dwindled to just 10,000. About 1,600 people protested in Berlin in two separate marches. In Dresden, police said only 500 people turned out.

Last week, the other major protest organizer, service union Verdi, withdrew its support for the demos.

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's coalition of Social Democrats and Greens has held firm in the face of pressure from protesters, refusing to abandon the package of reforms known as Hartz IV.

Some analysts have said the government's stance has helped it to stave off further losses in regional and local elections, especially in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where voters appeared to have taken on board the SPD's message that the opposition parties would be just as tough -- if not tougher -- on the issue of reforms.

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