Set back in Germany

Andy Newman

Bad result in Berlin results in state election this weekend. (sorry for any inaccuracies in translating German to English - I am a little rusty) Note also that criticism in this posting about the Greens is specific to the German incarnation, which is increasingly right wing.

SPD (New Labour) 30,8%
CDU (Tory) 21,3%
Linke (real socialists) 13,4%
Grüne (right wing greens) 13,1%
FDP (more Tories) 7,6%

Remember that the PDS. die Linke have been just under 17% for several years, and their leader Gysi got 22% first preference last year. The PDS are a remarkable party, with around 68000 members, that they have rescued from the wreckage of the old ruling communist, SED. Remember that the SED had 2 million members, so the PDS membership is only that part who are really committed to socialism, and of course many new younger people have joined with no links to the old DDR state. PDS leader Gregor Gysi was a dissident in the old DDR, so the party embodies the progressive aspects of the DDR, and not the repressive parts.

The drop in their result is largely being blamed in the German press on the WASG standing against them in Berlin, Lucy Redler (SAV -CWI, affiliate of the Socialist Party in England - formerly the Militant) got 3%, under the 5% hurdle to get into the state parliament. (Bear in mind that this 3% was not under the banner of the SAV itself, but standing as the WASG, a mainstream mass party already represented in parliament, so it was an especially bad result for Redler)

The WASG are an important split from the SPD, led by former party big hitter (Think Tony Benn, if he had actually won the deputy leader election), with 10000 members, mainly in the West, and who did extremely well in last years election, particularly in the industrial belt of the Saarland (equivalent to Labour heartlands in North East England). Between them the PDS and WASG have 54 members of parliament

There is also already some self criticism that this set back may be due to their coalition with the SPD. Linkspartei-Bundesgeschäftsführer Dietmar Bartsch hat inzwischen eine "selbstkritische Analyse" in Aussicht gestellt. Die Wähler hätten die Linkspartei für ihre Arbeit im rot-roten Senat der Bundeshauptstadt "schwer bestraft", sagte Bartsch in der ARD. (The voters have severley punished the Links Partei for ther work in the red-red senate of the capital city, said Linkes Partie national secretary Dietmar Bartsch. )

The PDS have followed a “dented shield” policy of seeking to pull the SPD (Labour) to the left, and opposed as far as possible neo-liberalism. The following web broadcast is only in German, but is a good explanation of the PDS position. (In particular there have been difficult decisions, due to the low level of confidence in the working class for struggle,). The CWI make a lot of mileage about events at the Charité hospital, which the SPD wanted to privatise. In order to prevent privatisation, a reduction in service and a bonfire of workers rights, the PDS have worked with the unions to see there are ways of reducing the wage bill, to keep the service open and in public ownership. Obviously it would be better if the unions would fight and a campaign could defend both the current wages, and the social ownership. But in reality there is no mood for a fight, there is much much less mood for a fight than when the Militant called off action in Liverpool. Sometimes you have to bend so you don't break.

Here is the rather shrill party political broadcast by the CWI member, Lucy Redler. (unfortunately also only in German). the WASG stood against the PDS, against the wishes of the WASG party nationally, as this damages the prospects of fusion between the WASG and PDS next year (due to some federal legislation). The CWI have (yet again!) put narrow self-interest before the bigger picture of strengthening the whole socialist movement. The Greens are completely right wing, ambiguous on the war on terror and embrace neo-liberalism The up shot is that there is likely to be a red-green coalition (SPD-Green), committed to neo-liberalism and privatisation. Thanks CWI !!!


Gregor Gysi, Linkspartei: "Das ist eine bittere Niederlage für uns in Berlin.Die Grünen sind hier so geil und scharf aufs Mitregieren, dass es mir schon ganz unheimlich ist." Gysi: "This is a bitter blow for us in Belin, the Greens here are so venal and focussed towards coallition government, that to me is completley obvious"

Petra Pau, Linkspartei: "Wir haben unser Ziel 17 plus X deutlich verfehlt. Es wird zu entscheiden sein, mit wem die SPD regieren wird." Pau: We have clearly failed to reach our goal of 17 plus per cent, it remains to be seen who will rule with the SPD"

Claudia Roth, Die Grünen: "Ein unglaublich tolles Ergebnis! Es gibt in Berlin einen Wahlgewinner – und das sind die Grünen. Ein eindeutiges Votum der Berliner für Rot-Grün in dieser Stadt. Und das mit Betonung auf Grün." Roth (Green). An unbelievably good result. In Berlin there was an election winner, and that is the greens. A doubtless vote for a Red-green coalition in this city, and that with the emphasis on the Greens"

Gysi sagt, die klare Erkenntnis dieser Wahl sei, dass es der Linkspartei und der WASG gleichermaßen schade, wenn sie gegeneinander antreten. "Die WASG kommt ohne uns nicht ins Parlament und wir verlieren unnötig drei Prozent." Gysi said that the clear realisation of this election was that the PDS and WASG are both damaged of the stand against each other. "The WASG wouldn't be in parliament without us, and we unnecessarily lost 3%"

OUTSIDE BERLIN: Really bad in Mecklenburg Vorpommern, where the nazi NPD got over 38% across one whole town, and after the election there was a savage attack on PDS members, the press reporting it was a marvel no one killed.



September 2006

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