Sunday, May 13, 2007

Boost for Left Party in German state election.

According to Bloomberg, the results of today's elections in Bremen reflect a big slump in the votes for the two main parties, the SPD and the CDU. The state has been run by a CDU-SPD coalition for twelve years, both parties pushing neoliberal pro-business policies in a union dominated by the SPD. The SPD vote sank 6% in this election to 36.2%, while the CDU lost 4% of the vote, declining to 25.7%. Third place were the Greens, who had increased their vote by 4% to 16.5%.

However, the big surprise was the extremely good showing for the new left-alliance, Die Linke, (comprising the Left Party, PDS and WASG). According to these projections, they got 8.9% of the vote, a strong showing which will certainly win them some seats in the local state parliament - the first time it (or its constituent parties) has ever gained representation in the west of Germany. On June 16 this year, Die Linke will be formally launched as a new party, and these results bode exceptionally well for it.

The result, though formally a victory for the SPD, is in reality a blow to the two main neoliberal parties, who share office. The current CDU-dominated coalition is deeply unpopular, with 71% of voters saying the government doesn't pay enough attention to the interests of workers. The SPD, by virtue of being a component of this 'grand coalition', cannot offer an alternative. At the same time, with their present ineffectual leader, the centrist Kurt Beck, they cannot begin to reach out to their voting base or even hint that they might do better than the current governing coalition. In fact, Beck has indicated that he doesn't even want to do so, by selecting the FPD as coalition partners rather than the Greens (who are themselves no radicals these days). Die Linke, if it can replicate these excellent results elsewhere, will fundamentally alter the balance of German politics and, in doing so, stop the logic of rightist drift and offer an alternative to the attempted neoliberal revolution.

(See also Interview with a Left Party activist; A Spectre is Haunting Europe; German election results).