Socialist 'Left Party' stirring up politics in Germany

Discussion in 'Politics & Law' started by Sim, Sep 10, 2007.

  1. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    Since 2005, a new party is stirring up the political landscape in Germany: The populist, socialist Left Party.

    It originated from a fusion of the reformed East German, formerly communist state party PDS and a small West German party (WASG) formed by defectors from the moderate, center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), who left their party in protest against Chancellor Schröder's (SPD) alledgedly "neo-liberal" reforms of the unemployment support system in 2004.

    In the 2005 elections, this new alliance won 8.7% of the votes, and it became the 4th strongest party in the German parliament. Because neither center-right Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) nor SPD were willing to form a coalition with the Left Party, the result was Chancellor Merkel's (CDU) "Great Coalition" of both large parties from left and right (SPD and CDU/CSU). So the Left Party has already had significant influence on German politics, by blocking both a center-right or center-left coalition, forcing left and right into a common coalition.

    The Left Party's strongest base is in East Germany, with results of between 16% and 28% of the votes on state level -- in West Germany, it stayed below 5% and thus did not enter any state parliament, with one exception (the tiny state of Bremen, where the Left Party won 8.4%).

    But since a very prominent West German politician has become co-chairman of the Left Party, this may change:
    Oskar Lafontaine was chairman of the SPD from 1995 to 1999 and Finance Minister in Chancellor Schröder's (SPD) first government from november 1998 to may 1999. In may 1999, Lafontaine surprisingly resigned from both offices, because he was no longer willing to support Schröder's alledgedly "neo-liberal", business-friendly policies. In 2004, he finally left the SPD and joined the defectors to the Left Party.

    With popular Lafontaine's support, the Left Party is now hoping to enter the West German state parliaments as well, in the upcoming elections.

    Since one of the founding parties of the Left Party was the formerly communist East German state party, the Left Party has been attacked for crimes of the communist regime: Most important, the firing order on people attempting to cross the border to West Germany. Hundreds of people were shot at the German-German border between 1961 and 1989.

    The Left Party's reactions are mixed:

    Lafontaine now accused the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) of hypocrisy: "If the allegiation of the Berlin Wall murders is accurate, it also hits the CDU!", he said. That is because the West German CDU united with the CDU in East Germany in 1990, which had been a puppet alibi party of the communist regime.

    Also, Lafontaine attacked Chancellor Merkel's (CDU) past as member of the East German communist youth organisation FDJ: "Concerning Ms Merkel: I did not wear the FDJ shirt, she did. The CDU should better come to terms with their own past!"

    Lafontaine also attacked the practize of observing the Left Party by the Verfassungsschutz ("Office for Protection of the Constitution", German NSA) for potential anti-constitutional activities: "If there is a party that ought to be observed, it's the CDU!", Lafontaine said.

    Left Party co-chairman Lothar Bisky denied that such a general firing order at the German-German border even existed, but other Left Party members object: EU Parliament member André Brie said the order existed. And vice-chairman Katina Schubert said: "Shots were fired. Those were crimes. This cannot be euphemized."

    The Left Party in the West German state of Hesse had elected a former Communist Party member, Pit Metz, as chairman, but after he compared the firing order at the Berlin Wall to the army's regulations in Afghanistan, he was replaced by a more moderate candidate.


    Left Party co-chairman Lafontaine openly sympathizes with Castro's Cuba and Chavez' Venezuela -- and he defends Chavez' policy of oppressing the media:

    "We need a democratization of the media in capitalist societies. There is the tragic error of assuming in Western states, the media is democratic. This is a huge misconception. They are free of influence by the state, yes, overwhelmingly. They are in the hands of the economy. And press is not free when it's in the hands of economy."

    Lafontaine also called the leaders of the G8 nations "the real top-terrorists on this world".

    When Lafontaine argued against the "War on Terror", he claimed "capitalism is bearing war like clouds are bearing rain".


    Lafontaine does not conceal his sympathy for Chavez: "We want to contribute to the establishment of a 21th century socialism and thus support the attempts at socialism in South America."


    What do you think? Would you like to have such a party in your countries as well? :)

  2. hanger4

    hanger4 Guest

    We already have that party in the U.S., it's called the Democratic Party.
  3. fleinn

    fleinn 101010

    .. So that's why Congress vehemently opposes efforts to spend billions of dollars to pay for democratisation efforts in central america.

    ..In any case, having that party in the US wouldn't work. An outspoken leader is a good thing, but he's taking too clear stands, he's criticising large potential sponsors, alienating too many voters, appealing to their critical sense too much, and speaks of hypocracy in the ruling party. As well as having too complicated arguments. What he should've been doing to have a chance, is to be vague and positive, for "government regulation", but also "personal responsibility" in vague and unspecific ways (that shall not be revealed until the next election after they've won) - and he should also constantly complement Merkel on what she does right, in the spin that would serve his own message. I.e, effectively dismissing the actual point the opponent had and replacing it with your own rhetorical garbage. Then that would need to be pushed out to as many media- outlets as possible, through spending campaign funds on "political actions groups", as not to break the financial rules on paying media- outlets for running political ads without specific contribution, as well as to get your party- message inside the 24h news cycle several times a day.

    He's got the negative attacks right, though. I.e, saying something about another politician, without saying anything about himself - at least so it's not apparent in the soundbites and quotes that come on the TV.

    Then he just needs to disband the Reichsdag, and he'd be a winner.
  4. Merc

    Merc Certified Shitlord V.I.P. Lifetime

    Why do you have to cop out instead of giving us a good response? It's easy to just shrug it off with a half-witted comment like that, so don't do it!

    And press is not free when it's in the hands of economy

    I'm not educated on the socialist party, so I may not have understood all of that like some of you did, but the above quote struck me as quite true.
  5. Jeanie

    Jeanie still nobody's bitch V.I.P. Lifetime

    I'm no fan of Castro, but I'm very intrigued by Chavez. His consolidation of power is a bit frightening, however.

    I'd love to see a viable Socialist Party in the U.S. Or even a Democratic Socialist Party or Labor Party.

    I think that if people in the U.S. truly understood what Socialism is (most assume that it's the Government telling you how to live your life, which it definitely is not) and if Socialism weren't so villified in this country, it could be a viable option. Sadly, people keep voting in support of candidates who are in the pocket of Big Business/Big Oil, and it's the working stiffs who get the short end of the stick.
  6. CMK_Eagle

    CMK_Eagle Registered Member

    I truely understand socialism, and it's terrifying. What has the US government done recently to suggest that it would be capable of running entire industries? One look at Medicaid should be enough to convince anyone that universal health care would be a disaster. Public education has a particularly disasterous combination of providing low-paying jobs for life (a surefire way to get sub-standard performance from employees) and a funding system that exacerbates the opportunity gap between rich and poor. Everyone except Congress knows Social Security will go broke in 50 years.

    To compare this to the private sector, companies like Kaiser Permenente offer their customers the best care in the world. America's university system is by far the best in the world, and I haven't heard of too many people having their 401(k)'s or IRA's wiped out recently.

    That's not to say that The Market is perfect, and something to be worshiped, or that governments should adopt completely laissez faire economic policies. However, it's pretty clear that the private sector does a better job of providing services than the public sector.
  7. Jeanie

    Jeanie still nobody's bitch V.I.P. Lifetime

    "our government would fuck it up" isn't an excuse to not provide medical care to all citizens. It works in other countries. Are we so fucked up here that we can't make it work? I thought we were supposed to be the greatest country in the world.

    I don't get the connection between our university system and socialism.

    and "recently" is the key word in that last sentence. thousands of people have had their 401(k)s and IRAs wiped out by greedy corporate executives. The little guys don't matter in our current system. As long as corporate executives have their golden parachutes, who cares?
  8. CMK_Eagle

    CMK_Eagle Registered Member

    Again, I'm not suggesting that everything should be left to the market. Obviously there are some serious flaws with the US health care system. However, a socialistic solution to the problem, i.e. extending Medicare/Medicaid to everyone, would represent a significant decrease in the quality of care for the vast majority of the nation. Such a system would be bloated, inefficient, and deadly for innovation.

    Governments are good at spending money, and markets are good at providing services. Therefore, the best solution is probably for the government to somehow pay competing healthcare firms to provide coverage.

    Sure, but not because the government plays nanny and tries to take care of everything for everyone. Or at least that was the idea.

    That's because a college education is provided by a large number of competing institutions. A college education is a good provided mostly by a free market, whereas education through high school is provided mostly by a closed, government-run (i.e. socialistic) system.

    And millions have used the system to finance their retirement. Again, the market isn't perfect, but investing in the S&P 500 is a far safer bet than Social Security for anyone under 30.
  9. pro2A

    pro2A Hell, It's about time!

    We all need food... why not make all restaurants and grocery stores government run? I mean after all food like health care is a basic human need. If I wan't a pound of hamburger, by darn the government should pay for it. Could you imagine how quickly food quality would go to the crapper? Food would taste like cardboard to maintain cost control. Government run health care is the same way, right now it's privatized. Just like our restaurants... I make the choice to go to TGIF's because they have awesome food... but if the government took over... the quality would go in the crapper... To prove my point, go to the DMV once, or the post office or any other government run institute... such friendly, high caliber people and service.

  10. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    You are right, such a party could not exist in the US. The most important reason for that is that "socialism" in any variety is villified in the US. Americans have a deep distrust in the state and don't think the state can do any good, at least when it comes to social security -- when it comes to "national security" and waging wars, on the other hand, Americans have a much deeper trust in the state than the average European or German.

    Most Americans don't believe in equality, but according to their idea of freedom, when someone is poor, it's their own fault. Germans on the other hand believe much more in equality, because they believe when you are poor, it's because of bad luck.

    And you are right, the American political system makes it more difficult for small parties to participate in elections, especially when they are not business-friendly: Parties have to compete for funding by private sponsors, and an anti-business, socialist party such as the Left Party is not likely to find sponsors in the free economy.

    Actually I think the Left Party's arguments are rather simple: Capitalism is evil, more state, state money for everybody who needs it -- and no single idea how to finance that.

    "Personal responsibility" is considered a euphemism used by "neo-liberal parties" to cut state support for those in need, in the eyes of the Left Party.

    Yes, the "look! over there!" distraction is classic.


    It's true, America has the best universities in the world, but also a lot of very bad universities. You will hardly find mediocre universities in the US.

    For comparison, the public German university system is mediocre. You hardly find outstandingly good universities, but neither will you find really bad ones.

    Public education encourages mediocrity. You may say that is a bad thing, because you don't have many outstanding universities. But when you look at it from the other side, it may be considered a good thing, because nobody is forced on really bad universities because of a lack of money or bad luck, and the standard is decent everywhere.

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