Inflation rises, wages stagnate: In Britain it is the Christmas of discontent



Hospitals, trains, air transport… In the UK, no sector has been spared from the social protest that has been brewing since this summer. It is therefore thousands of civil servants who are getting ready to spend the holidays on the line.

Inflation flirts with 11%

(Niklas Halle’n/AFP)

Since the 1970s, the scale of these absences has been unprecedented. All are demanding the same thing: an increase in their wages indexed to inflation, an inflation that is now flirting with 11%.

Without a plane or train, Britons who decide to take their car to join their family could not be spared either, as motorway agents are also on strike until January 7. Result: some, like Simon, do not want to take the risk of leaving London: “We will celebrate Christmas with my mother in a reduced selection. Normally we go to the family in Kent (southeast of London, editor’s note), but between the riots and the weather we don’t give it a chance.

Without Elizabeth II, “it will necessarily be different…”

In addition to the rumbling social unrest and shrinking household budgets, this year will not be a traditional Christmas for Britons who have lost their beloved Queen. It is the first time in 71 years that Elizabeth II, who died on September 8, will not deliver her wishes on television from Buckingham Palace. For Diane, who has never missed the slightest televised speech from the sovereign, this year will be sadder: “It will necessarily be different… It was our ritual at Christmas, we stopped what we were doing, we silenced everyone , and we turned. on the television to see and listen to her. We respect Charles, but we loved Elizabeth and we feel a little like we’ve lost someone in our family. Well, this will be our first Christmas without her …”.

This Sunday, therefore, it is the speech of a yet-to-be-crowned king – that will be the case on 6 May 2023 – that the British will listen to on the BBC. A sovereign who is given the difficult task of restoring the morale of an entire country.


In Italy a small wad of banknotes as a gift?

In Italy, as everywhere in Europe, the closing celebrations are set under the sign of darkness. When it comes to gifts, the trend towards practical items, such as a small wad of banknotes, is the most “trendy” gift in this period of crisis, says a survey written by the Ipsos institute.

It is the little Italians who risk toasting, households have decided to save on the backs of their children to be able to put place settings intended for adults under the tree.

When it comes to Christmas Eve, there is no question of abandoning tradition. But without having to scrape the bottoms of the drawers. For several days, housewives have been hunting for promotions to find, for example, panettones at low prices, this typical Christmas dessert has increased by an average of 37% since last year.


In Spain we have to celebrate Christmas, but by saving money

After a difficult year, Christmas and the Three Kings are eagerly awaited by our Spanish neighbours. Because despite the global price rise, they intend to reunite as a family.

According to a study by Accenture, they will spend an average of €497 during the holidays, 5% less than last year. Between 20% and 30% of Spaniards will consume less than they want due to the global price increase.

While some major cities have decided to reduce their Christmas lights, Madrid has maintained the same decorations as in other years despite the energy crisis. Its streets are crowded: the many illuminations delight both young and old, forgetting for a moment this complicated economic context, where more than 6 out of 10 people experience difficult end of months.


In Germany, anger is brewing

“Don’t be afraid… that everything is different”: On the front page, the weekly magazine “Stern” takes up the gospel message in an attempt to reassure Germans who find themselves in the middle of a gigantic geopolitical upheaval. Because Berlin is halfway between Paris and Kiev.

Rising prices are the most tangible sign of the crisis suffered by the man in the street, dubbed Mr. Dupont in France and Mr. Schmidt in Germany. Inflation remained above 10%, although it eased last month. Which is a notable difference from France, where it has remained more contained.

We are angry about the government’s policy, but here we forget!

At the Nuremberg Christmas Market, local specialties, local sausages or “Lebkuchen”, a spiced cookie covered with a sugar glaze, are subject to 50 cent markups. At the wooden counter, Heidi and Steffi clink glasses of mulled wine under the garlands of lights: “We wanted to decompress. We are angry about the government’s policy, but here we forget! “.

According to a survey by the Allensbach Institute, 2022 was the worst year for 61% of Germans. From hospital saturation to pediatric drug shortages to a crumbling rail network, anger is brewing in a country that has pulled out its checkbook (100 billion euros for defense, 200 billion for the economy) to respond to the challenge.

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