The Socialist Unity Network

PDS among the winners

report from the 2004 European elections in Germany.

Helmut Ettinger, PDS International Department



The Party of Democratic Socialism is among the winners of the European elections 2004 in Germany. With 6.1 % of the vote and 7 mandates it repeated its success of 1999 (5.8 % and 6 seats) with a slight growth. This is the highest result the party has ever scored in a nation-wide election. It strongly confirms that the PDS after its failure at the national elections of 2002 is back in German and European politics. Although the turnout was with 43 % extremely low (1999 45.2 %), the party managed to win more votes in absolute terms. For the first time the PDS in a federal state of east Germany the land of Brandenburg came in first with the highest share of the vote 30.8 (+5 %  against 1999). It distanced the other competitors considerably: the conservative CDU got 24 % (- 5.1 %), the SPD 20.6 % (- 10.9 %). This is good news for the Landtag election in the federal states of Brandenburg and Saxony in September, 2004.  In further four east German lander the PDS took a stable second place behind the CDU and far in front of the SPD. There was also an increase in percentage and absolute votes in all lander of west Germany, albeit on a low level.


One of the main reasons of this success is that the PDS by electing a new leadership at its extraordinary congress in July 2003 and adopting a new programme in October 2003 took a marked change in its policies, strategy and political culture. It turned its full attention to the real problems and hopes of the people struggling with the consequences of the continuous dismantling of the German welfare state by the "reforms" of the Schroeder-Fischer government. The PDS succeeded in sharpening its profile as a realistic, thoroughly democratic left party striving for social justice and attending the everyday needs of the people, supporting protest, but also presenting constructive proposals. The party was rewarded for consistently defending the interests of the east German people.


The PDS is accepted as a force aiming at a democratic, social and peaceful Europe. Its European election campaign was an opportunity to demonstrate European competence and to report to the voters on the practical work done by its present deputies in the European parliament.


The recent foundation of the Party of the European Left gave the election campaign a hopeful and optimistic touch. The support of EL parties for the PDS campaign played a highly important part in gaining this success. We express our heartfelt thanks to all involved comrades and friends.


The German conservatives are presenting themselves as the winners of these elections. Although they stayed the biggest party (44.5 % and 49 seats), they suffered considerable losses (4.2 % and 4 seats). The social democrats were punished by the voters for their ruthless attacks at the German welfare system. They got their lowest ever result in nation-wide elections (21.5 % and 23 seats), losing 9.2 % and 10 seats. This is only one more step in a whole series of recent election failures. Strangely enough, their coalition partner, the Greens, could strengthen their position 11 % and 13 seats against 6.4 % and 7 seats in 1999. The German liberals after 15 years of absence made it back in the EP again.





An even bigger success the PDS received in the election of the Landtag (parliament) of the east German federal state of Thuringia the same day. Here, the CDU managed with big losses by a narrow margin to keep its absolute majority of the seats. It received 43 % and 45 seats in the Landtag, losing 7 % and 6 seats. The SPD was once more reduced to a record low in this land, receiving only 14.5 % and 15 seats against 18.5 and 18 seats in the last election. As before, the Greens and liberals did not manage to enter the Landtag a common thing for these two parties in east Germany.


The PDS kept its second place. But by reaching 26.1 % and 28 seats (against 21.3 % and 21 seats before) it struck a record high in Landtag elections ever. In this land the party has seen a steady growth starting from 9 % of the vote in 1990. The reasons for this success are the consistent opposition policy of the party against conservative domination in all fields of life, which concentrated on alternative projects for an education reform, more direct democracy and the defence of the welfare state. The person of the head of the PDS liste, Bodo Ramelow,  has also played his part.


Although not all results of the municipal elections on 13 June have come in, the trend shows a stable second place of the PDS in the three east German Lander of Mecklenburg/Western Pomerania, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, well ahead of the SPD. In the west German Lander of Baden-Wurttemberg, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate the PDS managed to keep its seats in some of the municipal assemblies. A dark spot in these results is a certain growth of neo-nazi parties and groups in some cities and towns of east Germany, especially in Saxony. Here there will be much work to do in co-operation with all other democratic forces.


The outcome of this weekend's multiple elections is an optimistic sign and improves the conditions for the PDS political activities in Germany and Europe. The seven deputies of the party will do their utmost to continue the close and fruitful co-operation with the former GUE/NGL partners for another Europe a democratic, social and peaceful one.


More documents and information can be found at



June 2004


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