LeftStreamed, November 13, 2009:
Finance, Class and Politics in the European Economic Crisis: Was the German Election a Turning Point?
As a result of the recent German elections, Conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was leading a coalition government with the social democratic SPD (Social Democratic Party) since 2005, will also lead Germany's next government, this time with support from the liberal FDP (Free Democratic Party). Though the social democrats expected that their party, the SPD, would continue the downward trend that began with the 2002 elections and continued in 2005, the loss of 11.2% of the vote came as a shock. The 23.0% they received in this year's election was even lower than the 29.2% with which the SPD started their electoral performance in post-war (West) Germany.
The 11.9% for the Left Party (Die Linke) does not look too impressive numerically, but it does signify the establishment of the party as a constant factor in Germany's political system. Considering that the party was only founded as a merger of East Germany's Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and West-German SPD dissidents in 2007, this is a remarkable achievement that indicates the desire for a left voice in the parliamentary arena.
At this point, the Left Party is the only party in opposition to the restoration of neoliberalism. It would also be the key point of coalescing if any further rightwing turn in German politics occurs. From this angle, the significance of the electoral boost of the Left Party lies less in increased presence in parliament. It lies in the stabilization of a political force that began, however vaguely, to advocate alternatives to neoliberalism at a time when that doctrine still seemed to be the only way of economic and social development. Whether the Left Party is ready to live up to these openings is an entirely different question. It is also possible that the party gets torn apart between the temptation of occupying government positions and building the base for independent working class political action, or even a wider rebellion.
These issues served as the basis for a roundtable discussion of Die Linke and the coming period of struggle in Germany over exit strategies to the financial crisis.
Click here to view the video and other useful resources.