Hundreds of thousands of Germans took to the streets Saturday, in protest of pending trade deals with the United States and Canada.
The demonstrations took place in seven cities throughout Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart. Organizers told CNBC that the official estimate is 320,000 demonstrators across Germany.
In Berlin, where discussions of trade policy are frequently overheard in cafes and most available surfaces are plastered in posters and stickers against the deals, the largest demonstration of the day took place with about 70,000 attendees, according to the organizers.
The TTIP and its Asia-Pacific counterpart, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, are major policy priorities for President Obama’s administration as it enters its final months. Diplomats from the U.S. and eleven other Pacific Rim countries finalized the latter treaty’s language in October.
But both trade agreements have come under heavy criticism from the American left and right. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump frequently criticized “bad” trade deals as harmful to working-class Americans in favor of domestic elites and foreign countries. During a speech in June, Trump even claimed the TPP was “pushed by special interests who want to rape our country.”
Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, initially supported the TPP during her tenure as secretary of state, placing her at odds with large swaths of the Democratic base and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, her opponent during the primaries. She later began to back away from the deal in the weeks before the TPP’s text was finalized, then declared her opposition to it shortly after its release last fall.
Hopes for the TPP’s passage during a lame-duck session of Congress after the November elections also look increasingly grim. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week the agreement “won’t be acted upon this year,” effectively punting its final fate to the next president.