Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/395/4486

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 June 2005

Germany: Political turmoil after the elections

Lafontaine flirts with WASG and PDS

AS A consequence of the disastrous defeat in the regional state elections in North Rhine Westphalia, the former heartland of the Social Democrats (SPD) in Germany, chancellor Schršder issued a surprise call to bring the general election forward one year.

Tanja Niemeier

In the run-up to the elections, the SPD leadership adopted a more left-wing rhetoric in order to win back their core voters.

But while a large majority agreed with the SPD's verbal criticisms of capitalism, most did not believe the SPD was serious. Consequently, they received a battering in the polls for what many working-class people quite rightly see as the most severe attack on their living standards since 1945.

SPD and Greens in turmoil

With the Christian Democrats (CDU) decisively leading the polls, it is very unlikely that the SPD-led government coalition will be elected for a third term. Schršder is offering to the so-called left wing of the parliamentary group some minor concessions in relation to Agenda 2010 and Hartz IV, the government's hated austerity programmes.

In fact, the election campaign has started already and the Greens and SPD have started to blame each other for the failure of this government. There is some degree of panic within the Greens. They are no longer represented in any regional state government and with the national government coalition coming to a end, they may find themselves out of the ministerial game for a while.

WASG and PDS

WASG (Work and Social Justice - the Electoral Alternative), the new left party in Germany, stood in the elections for the first time and scored 2.2%, around 181,000 votes. Significantly, they became the third largest party amongst the unemployed.

Oskar Lafontaine, (the former finance minister under the first term Schršder government who resigned because he disagreed with the SPD's neo-liberal policy), has finally returned his SPD membership card and announced that he would be ready to stand in an alliance which involves the WASG and the PDS (the reconstituted ruling Communist party in the former East Germany).

The PDS has only got two representatives left in Parliament. They lost their status as parliamentary group in the 2002 elections when they failed to get over the required 5% hurdle or failed to get the majority for their candidates in three constituencies.

In Berlin, the PDS is part of the ruling coalition with the SPD and has carried out severe cuts in the public sector, including crche closures, privatisation and a 10% wage cut for public sector workers. Wherever they have taken on government responsibilities, they have carried out similar policies. As a consequence, a number of former PDS members have joined WASG.

New formation

According to the latest opinion polls, a formation which involved Oskar Lafontaine would have the potential to receive up to 18% of the vote, which underlines once again the desire for a genuine left force amongst a decisive section of the German working class.

The PDS has offered to reserve high up positions on their "open list" slate to WASG members, which the WASG leadership does not accept.

Having secured twice as many votes in the North Rhine Westphalia elections as the PDS, they feel that they are in a stronger position in West Germany. Also, WASG has got the position to reject any coalition that involves parties that carry out social cuts.

Members of Socialist Alternative, the Socialist Party's sister organisation in Germany, who are active within WASG, argue that one of the pre-conditions to cooperate with the PDS should be their withdrawal from government coalitions with the SPD.

The working class does not want left unity on paper but in practice. They want to see a real alternative to the neo-liberal agenda of the government. They are fed up with attacks on their living standards.

Hopes

Undoubtedly, there are a lot of hopes with Lafontaine's reappearing on the political arena and the pressure is mounting that the left, which often seems to be divided, comes together.

However, it is only unity on a political programme that can strengthen the position of the working class. The WASG should organise a special conference to democratically discuss on what grounds they want to cooperate with the PDS.

WASG members should welcome the possibility of a joint all-German left party but should appeal to PDS members to put pressure on their party leaders to withdraw from any involvement in social cuts.

The current developments have already led to a politicisation in German society. A genuine new formation could attract thousands of workers, youth and unemployed who are currently fed up with all the established parties.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 2 June 2005:

Say no to the bosses' profit system

EU constitution defeated

Why French workers voted 'no' to EU referendum

Defend adult education

ID cards: £300 for a snooper's card!

The campaign for Socialism 2005 begins now

Capitalism can't solve AIDS crisis

"Struggle or death" - Pakistan telecoms workers fight privatisation

Germany: Political turmoil after the elections

Iraq: coalition plans floundering

Labour court awards Gama workers €8,000

Striking back at pay-cutting bosses

BBC offer must be rejected

It is privatisation and it is as we know it

Coventry single status dispute: the stakes are raised

FE lecturers fight for pay deal

Job losses expose Manchester's 'boom'


 

Home   |   The Socialist 2 June 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Germany:

triangleGermany: Right-wing terror attacks - fight racism, fight capitalism!

triangle30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall: How a mass revolutionary movement for genuine socialism was diverted

triangleFar right makes gains in Germany

triangleSwansea Socialist Party1919: When Germany was on the brink of socialism

triangleGermany: School student walkouts reject Coal Commission proposals

Elections:

triangleTime to relaunch TUSC

trianglePCS executive majority cancels union democracy

triangleUCU: election victory for combative rank and file

triangleEquity union president elections

WASG:

triangleThe United Front today & the Left in Germany

Working class:

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Class struggle and the role of the working class in changing society

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Labour - time for a new party for the working class

International

International

5/8/20

Cuba

Cuba: Covid-19 and the 60-year-old embargo

5/8/20

Nuclear weapons

Anniversary of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

22/7/20

Iran

Iran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes

22/7/20

Israel

Israel: Nurses strike and win

8/7/20

Hong Kong

Hong Kong: The fight for democratic rights

24/6/20

South Africa

South Africa: Building jobs and living wage campaign

10/6/20

France

France: 20,000 rally against Paris's killer gendarmes

10/6/20

US

Black and white youth rise up against racism - US protester speaks to the Socialist

3/6/20

USA

USA - another cop killing of unarmed black man sparks widespread protests

31/5/20

US

Outrage spreads globally following US police murder of George Floyd

27/5/20

Hong Kong

Chinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests

27/5/20

Lebanon

Economic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon

20/5/20

US

Trump, coronavirus, capitalism, and the presidential race

6/5/20

India

India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus

6/5/20

Trump

Trump puts profit before safety (again)

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999