Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 28 September 2006

Berlin election

Fighting the neo-liberal offensive

SOCIALISTS FROM many parts of Europe helped in the Berlin election campaign of the WASG (Election Alternative for Work and Social Justice) that culminated on 17 September in over 52,000 constituency votes and over 40,000 votes in the list elections (for analysis and background see the socialist 455).
NEIL CAFFERKY, a Socialist Party member in London, was one of them.

Lucy Redler, the SAV member who was top of the WASG list in BerlinMY OWN campaign began on 14 September. I was introduced to members of Socialist Alternative (SAV - the CWI in Germany) and the CWI contingent and then sent in a team to campaign in Lichtenburg, a working-class neighbourhood in East Berlin.

(Picture, Lucy Redler, the SAV member who was top of the WASG list in Berlin)

In the last state elections this area returned a sizeable vote for the PDS, the former state Stalinist Party in east Germany, that still had a left-wing reputation. This time, the PDS, renamed as Left Party.PDS (L.PDS), had been part of the Social Democratic Party-led coalition that introduced massive cuts. So, the only two parties who seemed to have a presence were the WASG and the neo-fascist NPD.

The NPD presence was a stark reminder of what happens when supposedly left parties like the PDS betray working-class voters by attacking living standards. The NPD were blatantly channelling people's anger in racist directions.

One poster showed a picture of two blonde-haired children with the slogan: 'It's either immigrants or us'. The cute-looking kids did nothing to hide the poster's sinister undertones.

Perhaps because of this, the WASG's presence as a pro-working class party was a welcome antidote for many residents. Many people nodded as they read our posters. One worker shouted down from his apartment balcony that we should poster over the fascist posters as they were causing an eyesore in the neighbourhood!

On Friday 15 September I went to the Charité, Berlin's largest hospital where government cuts and a refusal to make a wage offer, led to the workers taking strike action. Charité's management had just announced their latest callous cost-saving measure: Patients would only be allowed one litre of free water daily, anything more would have to be paid for.

To highlight this injustice, the WASG handed out one-litre bottles of water decorated with slogans condemning the cuts. The media were out in force as we unfurled a banner calling for solidarity with the strikers.

By Saturday I was distributing leaflets outside an Aldi store in Pankow. While some people showed an interest in our material (one woman even made a spontaneous donation to the SAV) many people wanted nothing to do with anything that smacked of elections. The mood of disillusionment with politics was evident across Berlin.

That afternoon, the area's SPD candidate joined us with her entourage. Her political contribution seemed to involve handing out red balloons to children. It says a lot about the SPD that between one socialist who could barely speak German and six SPD activists the amount of politics discussed was about equal!

Election day

POLITICAL CAMPAIGNING is banned on election day but the election still loomed large in most people's minds, particularly whether WASG would reach the 5% of the vote necessary to obtain a seat in the city parliament.

Polls closed at 6pm but there was an unofficial exit poll due at 5. There was a general feeling of nervousness and expectancy at the WASG election party. At 5:25pm the exit poll finally arrived. WASG at 3.5%.

Obviously everyone had hoped for 5% but once again the SAV proved itself the heart and soul of the organisation. Leading SAV members moved through the hall emphasising that 52,000 people had voted for us, that we achieved a higher vote than the fascists and helped cut across them, and that the struggle will go on.

The mood though was really boosted when official figures revealed the scale of the PDS losses. Voters had delivered a decisive verdict on the policy of a 'left' party implementing cuts. The WASG in Berlin had at least maintained the banner of a fighting alternative.

Morale lifted even further when Lucy Redler, the SAV member who was top of the WASG list in Berlin, returned from the count centre to be cheered up to the stage with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds booming from the sound system! Lucy's speech, combined with the news that WASG had won 14 seats in the local council elections meant there was almost a party atmosphere in the building by 11pm.

I found the whole election campaign a marvellous experience. The most inspiring thing for me though was seeing the SAV and CWI members work alongside German workers to oppose neo-liberalism.

As the class struggle in Europe heats up, CWI members across the continent will be to the forefront of new workers' formations that will be created in response to the bosses' attacks.

Going forward from this result in Germany, the CWI is well placed to arm working-class people with the idea of an independent political party as a weapon in their day-to-day struggles. This will be an important step towards ending the rule of profit over the people of Europe through building socialist societies spanning the whole continent.

Siemens strike appeal

WORKERS AT the Bosch-Siemens-Hausgeraetewerk factory in the Spandau district of Berlin are fighting against 570 redundancies and the planned closure of production at the site early in 2007. This factory produces household goods.

On 25 September, the workers began an unlimited strike after a 94.97% strike vote.

Please send messages of solidarity to: and

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 28 September 2006:

Socialist Party NHS campaign


On the march to save the NHS

Lewisham - Liberals save Labour's blushes on NHS

NHS Logistics: Workers strike against sell-off

300 rally to oppose privatisation - prepare for strike action

Socialist Party campaigns

Blair out! New Labour out!

Tommy Sheridan: Murdoch's new offensive

Manchester's hostile welcome to Blair

Blair's long goodbye

Socialist Students getting a fantastic response

International socialist news and analysis

Latin America in revolt

Fighting the neo-liberal offensive

Capitalism's ruthless struggle for oil and gas

Class unity is the only answer

Mass protests over 'lies speech'

Cuba - before and after the revolution


Home   |   The Socialist 28 September 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleClimate change election debate - Corbyn offers best green solutions but needs to go further

triangleCarlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay

trianglePCS union general secretary election

trianglePrepare now for the struggles after 12 December

triangleKeep up to date with our election coverage


triangleFight for your future - join the socialists

triangleThe Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

triangleClimate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together

triangleWhy I joined: "Proud to be a socialist"


triangleThe United Front today & the Left in Germany

The Socialist:

triangleSelling the Socialist

triangleSelling the Socialist


triangleJared Wood overwhelmingly elected to RMT executive

Socialist Party:

triangleLatest Socialist Party leaflets


triangleBerlin hospital strike


triangleNorthern Ireland: strike action by NHS workers

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


Socialist Party

Fight for your future - join the socialists



Strikes: more determined than ever


Socialist Students

Students and workers united in struggle


South Western Railway

It's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public



Surrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action



Social workers lobby Hull City Council


Climate change

Climate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together


Socialist Party

Why I joined: "Proud to be a socialist"



Carlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay



Workplace news in brief


West Midlands

Solid support for guards on West Midlands Trains


Climate change

Climate change election debate - Corbyn offers best green solutions but needs to go further


The Socialist

Selling the Socialist


Royal Mail

Royal Mail court ruling - national reps meeting and solidarity action essential



Jared Wood overwhelmingly elected to RMT executive

triangleMore Reports and campaigns 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



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


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

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019