Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

German Elections: Die Linke Beat Die Grünen .

with 24 comments

8,6% to Greens’ 8,4%

Angela Merkel’s re-election is not the only news out of Germany (Hat-tip Dagmar).

The results showed that the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) won only 4.8%, which correspondents say is a disaster for the junior coalition partner, leaving it with no national representation in parliament for the first time in Germany’s post-war history.

Party chairman Philipp Roesler called it “the bitterest, saddest hour of the Free Democratic Party”.

The FDP was beaten by the Green Party (8.4%) and the former communist Left Party (8.6%). It almost finished behind the new Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), which advocates withdrawal from the euro currency and took 4.7%, just short of the parliamentary threshold.

There was at one point speculation that Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister CSU might even win enough seats for an absolute majority – the first in half a century. BBC

Comment: so the Greens have been outrun by the Left Party. It is good news that Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD)  “Alternative for Germany” – the country’s UKIP – did not get in.

Final percentage of the vote

  • CDU bloc: 41.5%
  • SPD: 26%
  • FDP: 4.8%
  • Left Party: 8.6%
  • Green: 8.4%
  • AfD: 4.7%

Der Spiegel comments on the result,

Is the scene now set for another grand coalition? The leadership of the SPD are putting the brakes on speculation over a potential pairing with Merkel. Following its weak performance, the party wants to avoid internal disputes over what would be an unpopular alliance.

Sigmar Gabriel is usually very adept at beating around the bush, but after Sunday’s election result he decided to take a more direct tack. “We would have expected a little bit more,” the leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) said.

No, it was not a good outcome for the Social Democrats, and they know it. The party made a bit of a recovery compared to 2009, but talk of a resurgence is out of the question. The conservatives, consisting of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have rode off even further into the distance. To the chancellor and her party colleagues, the SPD looks tiny, a party left far behind.The Social Democrats are facing some testing weeks. Angela Merkel has fallen just short of an absolute majority; she needs a partner to govern. The Greens, after their own debacle, are likely to have enough to worry about without testing a potential coalition option that is already internally highly controversial, so the chancellor will likely court the SPD. After four years, the Social Democrats could once again be in government.

But few in the party have much enthusiasm for a new alliance with Merkel. The gap between the conservatives and their closest competitior is sizeable. A CDU/SPD coalition would not be on a level playing field — that at least is what the Social Democrats suspect. In the end, so the fears go, everything would pan out as it did in 2009. Or even worse. Back then, SPD politicians felt Merkel got the credit for anything positive that happened within the government, even if it was the Social Democrats’ own work.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 23, 2013 at 10:47 am

24 Responses

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  1. The AfD are a bit more interesting, shall we say, compared to the ‘fruitcakes’ of UKIP. But I won’t make any fruitcake comparisons myself – I’ve been burnt (or got somebody else burnt) with regard to such ‘Kuchen’ references with regards to German politicians in the comments boxes before (and the AfD sued the Young Pirates a few days ago over a leaflet which claimed to ‘expose’ the AfD, with a fine of 250.000 Euro should they distribute it again, even once).

    A lot of media commentators are openly wondering “what happened to the Pirates”? If they ever removed themselves from their little media bubble, they might realise that, just as the Pirates were hyped by the press and television when they were new, they were quickly dropped when it seemed they might do very well indeed. And instead, about three months ago, the AfD popped up, who were presented as the “new” “alternative”, ideal for the “protest vote”.

    In Hesse, the vote of Die Linke was 5.1% in the end, and the FDP got 5.0%, so did get in to parliament in. SWPer Wissler is all over the media again (I hope she doesn’t start talking about Palestine or Syria). Nationally it looks not entirely unlikely that it could be time for a CDU/CSU-Green coalition. Or a CDU/CSU minority government. The SPD, if they want to continue to exist – and to grow above the miniscule 26% they got – would be well-advised not to repeat the disaster (for them) of another grand coalition with Merkel.

    dagmar

    September 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

  2. Thanks Dagmar.

    You comments are greatly appreciated.

    So….it’s not secret that the Tendance dislikes the Greens.

    The political reasons are very clear, as covered in this excellent article in New Left Review,

    http://newleftreview.org/II/81/joachim-jachnow-what-s-become-of-the-german-greens

    But there appears more.

    I found this interesting, tears from a paper I loathe even more than mid-80s Libération, Taz, http://taz.de/Kommentar-Paedophilie-Debatte/!123858/

    The French media has give a lot of coverage of this issue.

    One reason, amongst many, is not just Cohen Bendit, but this,

    “In January 1977, three men were facing trial over charges of sexual crimes against 13- and 14-year old children, various intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Louis Aragon, Catherine Millet, André Glucksmann, Jack Lang, and Sarkozy’s future foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, declared solidarity with them.”

    Andrew Coates

    September 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

  3. The Cohn-Bendit angle on this ‘paedophilia’ issue is a bit, well, it’s a bit obvious. I think it was in the general election before last when the tabloid Bild tried to do over the Greens on exactly the same issue (quoting from the same book he published with a few quite dodgy paragraphs on the subject) But no-one really took the bait, apart from the media, especially – and quite reasonably – there was a lot of “oh well, it’s Cohn-Bendit, he’s just a big mouth and was probably just overdoing it to try to get attention to himself”.

    The main curiousity this time is why the “taz” has been sticking the knife into the Greens, and in particular their leadership so much (over this). The taz is *the* paper of the Green leadership, about 60% of its readers – and owners, it’s a cooperative – are Green supporters, many of them active. Of course, they have tried to balance their coverage a bit, after *loads* of readers cancelled their subscriptions and have resigned from the co-operative (500 Euros per share). But it doesn’t make sense. Unless their politics have finally started to match the ‘standards’ of their journalism and become proper right-wingers.

    I hate the taz more than I hate the Greens in general. It’s an entire waste of paper and trees and energy. And on this they have been very, very ‘soaraway sensational’. But, as I said, they can’t do proper journalism.

    dagmar

    September 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm

  4. Taz is revoltingly ‘in’, or better, “branché”.

    I was living in France when the German Greens first made their breakthrough in the 1980s.

    All of us on the left in Paris were thrilled.

    A visiting German comrade, David, turned up his nose and said they were utter tossers.

    Having worked with the French Greens, les Verts, (as a rep from my left group) on the demo over Chernobyl – I soon came to realise the wisdom of his comment.

    Not only about Germany, that is.

    Never forgotten it David!

    This is a good article in French,

    “Dans le laboratoire de l’écolo-bourgeoisie”

    Le quartier le plus chic de Hambourg est aussi le plus écologique…..

    August 2011.

    http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2011/08/CYRAN/20842

    Andrew Coates

    September 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm

  5. I think the only thing the taz is into these days is being stuck far up in its own collective arse.

    dagmar

    September 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm

  6. I’m sure you were around in the far left in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I wasn’t (born then), but I’ve heard reports from comrades I respect and trust (also on this subject) how it wasn’t anything spectacular at the time for paedophiles to turn up at conferences on the subject of sexual liberation with their ‘partners’ and argue their case, which was generally accepted or just not commented upon. In (West) Germany the problem – the problem for the Greens now – may have been made worse as homophobic laws also included references to sex between adults and children – i.e. also legally both subjects were ‘in the same basket’. Ideal for paedophile activists, of course. The whole age of consent issue is a minefield, and what is illegal here or in the UK is perfectly (legally at least) accepted in other EU countries. (Cue someone from ‘Socialist Unity’ to turn up and claim the GDR didn’t have an age of consent. It’s a false claim, though.)

    It is also unjustified for this to be a subject that seems to be affecting the Greens and the Greens only. The cases of organised child abuse that have become public have been mainly from inside the catholic church , with a few cases from ‘reform’ boarding schools (which may have been vaguely related, from the late 1970s onwards, to the ‘Green milieu’).

    And to be honest, if the press are going to go after Green leader Trittin, as they did – him being the person who legally signed off the manifesto (which caused an uproar at the time, incidentally, 1985, I think, so this isn’t ‘news’ in any way) – I don’t quite ‘get’ why they are doing it over this. He’s an ex-Maoist! Presumably past Maoism is ‘acceptable’. But he was an object of hate for the right wing press while environment minister under Schröder as well.

    (Oh, and the taz published many pages of articles on ‘man-child love’ etc. at the time…)

    Otherwise: the ‘kiddy fiddler’-card hasn’t worked so far in German politics, unlike in the UK, where it seems to be an argument (one you can’t, mustn’t, argue with) for so much: video observation, internet record production and retention, etc. People haven’t bought that (quite rightly) here. Not yet….

    dagmar

    September 23, 2013 at 1:18 pm

  7. “t is good news that Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) “Alternative for Germany” – the country’s UKIP – did not get in.”

    Why is this good news? With the 5% hurdle something like 15% of those who voted (AfD, FDP, Piraten etc) find themselves unrepresented.

    Nick Wright

    September 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm

  8. Nick, I also burst into tears every time I read that UKIP has no MPs.

    I will be distraught when No2EU Yes to Great Britain Socialism gets nowhere as well.

    Andrew Coates

    September 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm

  9. Allemagne. La joie des militants de Die Linke

    Berlin (Allemagne), correspondance. Avec 8,6 % des voix, 
la formation de gauche devient la troisième force politique du pays. Ambiance au QG du parti à Berlin lors de cettesoirée électorale.

    http://www.humanite.fr/monde/allemagne-la-joie-des-militants-de-die-linke-549418

    Andrew Coates

    September 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm

  10. I read there was pressure coming from within the Green leadership to consider entering a coalition with CDU, any truth in that, Angie would love that as it would portray her in a positive light. For the ‘left’ the best option would be a CDU/CSU minority government as there would a chance of holding them in check. If history teaches one thing the smaller party in any right wing coalition takes the rap.

    Mick Hall

    September 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm

  11. To Nick Wright, ever the democrat:

    it is good that the most right-wing and neo-liberal parties are not in the German parliament, as part of the system as it exists at the moment.

    On the Neoliberal FDP – it means that the party, which was even described in my German school textbook, printed ca. 1974, as “ever the whore of West German politics”, i.e. it is anything to anyone, as long as they pay, either in cash or government ministerial posts – it means that the FDP, at least for a while, and their extreme free market soundbites (with little behind them) will be gone from the media and the public view. The FDP leader was de-invited from the immedicate post-election programme on the German first channel on Sunday night.

    On the UKIP-esque “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) – it is good for similar reasons that this collection of German fruitcakes and non-fruitcakes alike, which has only existed for a few months, is not in parliament. In major cities where the country’s media are based, such as Berlin and Hamburg, the AfD’s was on “telling it like it is”, “truth”, “the abolition of democracy” and the hypocricy of “claming to save Greece while actually taxpayers’ money is actually being used to save German banks”. I just spent a few days in the east German provinces. There – where the far-right have done well, in the ballot box as well as on the streets, in recent years – the AfD campaigned on a very different tune. While still claiming to be the only people with the “truth” and “telling it like it is”, all the AfD posters I saw – every single one of them, and there were a lot still up – were about “foreigners” and “immigration”. On “democracy” I have to ask what a party really considers democracy to be where some of its leaders want to reintroduce the 3-class voting system of Prussia. So the AfD being out of parliament means its nasty right wing views have one stage less to be displayed on and that this rag-bag of professors, bourgeois economists, landowners, businessmen and consipiracy theorists of the supposed left and right may well collapse soon, like so many other previous attempts to form such an alliance in Germany since 1990. (However, the European Elections are quite soon and it is likely that this will give them their first MEPs, should the obvious internal contradictions not have led to a split by then. It is also possible that the FDP could arise new and prevent the AfD from doing as well).

    At the same time, despite its obvious failings, Die Linke is set to be the official opposition party in parliament, assuming the SPD go for a grand coalition with Merkel (and the SPD leadershipis stupid enough to do so, I think, even if their candidate has said he personally whill have nothing to do with it). This will mean, I hope, that Die Linke will not be able to be ignored quite as much by the media as was previously obviously the case, and this could give left-wing views and policies much more of an airing in the population at large and help put social democracy – and DIe Linke is generally nothing more than a ‘genuine social democratic party’ (and in practice: at best it is that, often it is not even that) back on the political map.

    I would prefer that to endless neoliberal and semi-xenophobic rantings being given coverage purely on the basis that they are represented in parliament and therefore ‘have to be covered’.

    dagmar

    September 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm

  12. The AfD sound exactly like UKIP.

    In case you haven’t followed this on the ground Dagmar there are people in the very small British Communist Party and even the Trotskyist Socialist Party who think that the UKIP partly draws on a genuine class and democratic feeling against the European Union.

    Their aim with No2EU (their Euro slate backed – and essentially financed as a vanity project by the RMT) is to draw them into their own orbit.

    That’s their gloss.

    In fact I have known them to say – before UKIP’s nature as an anti-immigration party became so clear that nobody could deny it – that even some UKIP councillors were good because (for example) they were against austerity.

    Andrew Coates

    September 26, 2013 at 11:53 am

  13. Good analysis here from Victor Grossman in today’s Morning Star: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-a546-Has-the-left-lost-in-Germany

    Paul Simon

    September 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm

  14. Andrew, what evidence to you have to suggest that UKIP doesn’t draw some of its support from anti-EU working class voters? In our own dear county, a number of their councillors represent previously Labour wards, eg in Lowestoft?

    Paul Simon

    September 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm

  15. Well: of course, I know what the CPB (does their ‘front’ CAEF still exist?), and the SP “think”, and am aware of their ridiculous “No2EU”. And the AfD are indeed saying what no-body else has said over Greece – at least not so directly and clearly – that the “aid” from Germany “to Greece” is just money propping up German banks (mainly the Deutsche Bank) and also implying that the banks should be allowed to go bankrupt. But the rest stinks, and they are strange. On national television their deputy leader has argued for Germany to go into a political pact with Russia, based on the fact that this was Bismarck’s policy, listing various treaties from the 19th century to justify their stance. The main leaders are very arrogant and talk of the ‘stupidity’ and ‘ignorance’ of ‘ordinary people’ (strange, for a group that is certainly ‘populist’ in a bad way), while saying ‘we are professors, economists, etc. – we know the truth’. It reminds me a bit of what UKIP was like in their very early days, Alan Sked and all that.

    So should Germany become part of Russia? Lech Walesa said on Tuesday that Poland and Germany should form a joint state. The AfD should go for that one, as long as that joint state is called ‘Prussia’.

    As I said, AfD doesn’t really exist as an organisation *yet*. Detailed analysis shows that their voters come from across the political spectrum – but mainly from the CDU and the Linke, with a fair number of previously non-voters. I think that tells us as much about Die Linke (in the east) as about the AfD.

    And when it comes to ‘democracy’, two quick points. Ver.di claim in their internal publication for functionaries, the election has shown there are three main politcal factions in German politics. There’s the bourgeois-conservative-radical free marketeer faction, made up of the CDU, FDP and AfD (36%). There’s the labour movement, ecological and civil rights movement, made up of the SPD, Greens and Die Linke (30%). And then there’s the political faction which is entirely unrepresented in parliament – the non-voters: 34%. http://fm1.apm.ag/verdi_news_wcms/fmpro?-db=verdi_news_wcms.fp5&-lay=e&-format=txtdet.html&-recid=39815&-find

    This is far too simple though, as in reality, the FDP are neoliberal free marketeers, but far more interested in and active over civil rights than, for example, the SPD or Die Linke. Sections of the CDU, Volkspartei as it is, are far better at articulating the demands of the labour movement, than, say the Greens, and also Die Linke. Die Linke is incredibly conservative on some matters (Volkspartei as it is, in most of the east). The SPD aren’t really that interested in ecological issues. And the AfD..no-one really knows what will happen there.

    The second point is just a link, which is amusing in a way. http://german.ruvr.ru/2013_09_23/Russlands-Experten-uber-die-Wahl-in-Deutschland-3128/ – Radio Moscow, hm, I mean, the ‘Voice of Russia’ on how Germany’s elections wouldn’t pass an OSCE test (and how 100,000 votes in Hamburg ‘vanished’). I couldn’t find an English version of the article, though.

    dagmar

    September 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm

  16. I read the Grossman article after posting this, and it is good.

    On UKIP: I was referring to what some of your lot and the SP said about UKIP’s Suffolk County Councillor (before the last election).

    Regarding the most recent election, Ipswich has one UKIP councillor in Whitehouse, which is largely working class.

    There are also working class votes behind the BNP.

    What is your point Paul?

    That UKIP got their support because they are ‘antii-EU’?

    I have no heard a single ordinary person name this as the principal reason for voting UKIP, now or ever.

    True some of the cranks, either active in UKIP (I have met them) go on about the ‘OOro’ and ‘Brussels’.

    But most connect this to their over-riding priorities: against ‘foreigners’ in general,. and migrant workers in particular.

    No2EU offers not serious alternative to this: it is based on a ‘British’ road to socialism, and withdrawel from the EU.

    By contrast most of the European left, like Tendance Coatesy, is for various vesions of a European social republic – internationalism, not nationalism.

    Andrew Coates

    September 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

  17. Typing error correction:

    “Detailed analysis shows that their voters come from across the political spectrum – but mainly from the neoliberal FDP [not CDU as I typed above] and the Linke, with a fair number of previously non-voters. I think that tells us as much about Die Linke (in the east) as about the AfD.”

    dagmar

    September 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm

  18. Amusing footnote in a Weekly Worker article:

    ” I would like to thank supporters of Marx 21 for pointing out that it is not actually an affiliate of the Socialist Workers Party’s International Socialist Tendency, as I stated in my last article – although members close to the British SWP are still involved in it.” (Ben Lewis – http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/979/die-linke-principled-opposition-not-coalition-poker – a good article)

    Hm, and Marx21-predecessor Linksruck also vanished for years from the list of international affiliated organisations in SWP publications. During those years, after the smashing of previous IST franchise SAG, when Linksruck was trying (very unsuccessfully) to take over the SPD (!) Young Socialists and was pretending to be ‘just a party faction’. Before they moved on to taking over Attac in Germany and then eventually arrived, via the final months of the SPD-split, the WASG, in Die Linke (seeming mainly to do-over the CWI grouping, the SAV, who had been in the WASG from the beginning and controlled its Berlin branch.

    Affiliate or no affiliate, the Marx21and Die Linke’s student group summer schools this year will no doubt again have ‘big name’ speakers such as Alex Callinicos, Martin Smith, Judith Orr, etc. Somehow about three years ago they stopped inviting Lindsey German and John Rees. Can’t imagine why.

    dagmar

    September 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm

  19. I don’t share the Tendance’s enthuasism for Grossman’s article. Partly because I have experienced him as the slippery Stalinist he remains to this day, but mainly due to the content.

    When he writes “There is another possibility. A really radical one. A coalition without the CDU.” he misunderstands the meaning of the word “possiblity”. It is not possible now. And if the Greens are as bad (as they are) as he suggests, what would be “radical” about a government with them, the also non-radical SPD, and the not-radical either Die Linke leadership?

    Not much.

    I haven’t got the figures exactly, but Die Linke got about 1.5 million less votes than at the last election. Of course, by getting slightly more than the Greens, and by its vote holding up in the west, even without Lafontaine, this can be argued as being a ‘victory’. But it’s an argument.

    And Die Linke’s largely eastern leadership* won’t be very pleased about that vote in the west. They have been trying to ‘do over’ the western sections since the merger with the WASG, as they abandoned the PDS in the west in the mid 1990s for similar reasons. Die Linke in the west is understandably made up of a lot of activists, past or present, from other political groups, either ‘Trotskyist’ or Stalinist. Some have more contact with reality than others. But the leadership constantly complains about the ‘mad sectarians’ in the western party and the SPD often pick this up, as an argument not to vote for Die Linke, but also when making overtones to sections of DIe Linke to join them. “We’d go into coalition with you, Comrade Gysi, and your all-very-reasonable comrades in the east, but only if you throw out all those mad lefties in the west”.

    (*there’s parity between east and west in the party structures, regardless of where the votes come from and where the members are. But those who really have something to say are on the right, and from the east.)

    dagmar

    September 26, 2013 at 4:10 pm

  20. I think the point was Dagmar – Le Monde has covered the German elections a lot more thoroughly than the English language press and I get most of my information from Le Monde – is that that the idea that Die Linke would get below 5% was mooted at one point.

    In that sense it was a reasonable result.

    On the lefties in the West.

    I have met Frieder Otto Wolf and I wonder if he plays a role in Die Linke.

    He definitely not mad, but since you cite one group who are – the SWP’s little helpers – I imagine they are not alone.

    On ATTAC: the SWP tried an ‘OPA’ (political slang from the word for company take-over, offre publique d’achat ) on ATTAC around Europe, and specifically in France.

    They got told to piss off.

    Hence many sour comments by Callinicos on Bernard Cassen of Le Monde Diplomatique.

    For example, ” Cassen, in collaboration with elements of the French Communist Party and the CGT trade union federation, has sought to make Attac the right wing of the anti-capitalist movement, bitterly resistant to any attempt to widen the movement’s agenda to opposing imperialism and war.”

    http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=8390

    Andrew Coates

    September 27, 2013 at 10:35 am

  21. The idea that Die Linke would get less than 5% was, for a while, often communicated in the German media. But for that to realistically (and mathematically) happen, the Linke vote in much of the east must have been expected to collapse. Now: while their voters and members are dying out, and even more of them stay at home, it could not possibly have happened on such a scale to mean they were likely to get less than 5.0%, even if it being close was a vague possibility. Articles suggesting otherwise were wishful thinking or transparent troublemaking and intended to encourage voters to swap their allegiances to the SPD (or even AfD).

    As far as I know, Frieder Otto Wolf is ‘parteilos’, after leaving the Greens quite a time ago.

    On ATTAC: in Germany basically the SWP built it and put it on the map. It had existed as an irrelevant committee of academic do-gooders for a fair while beforehand, but once the SWP had abandoned the SPD-YS (the Jusos) they were looking for a new playing field, new flags and banners to carry, and new people to sell papers too, and were in the right place at the right time. I wouldn’t say they did a bad job of it, as far as SWP ‘united fronts’ of Tories and Christians go (and it certainly was one of those, it was almost a cliché – the most famous member of ATTAC here is CDU ex-health minister Heiner Geißler – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heiner_Gei%C3%9Fler ) but, of course, they abandoned it when something else came along that looked more important (and more importantly: something else they didn’t want to leave unchallenged to the CWI). It also gives all of their members in Die Linke something ‘respectable’ that normal people have heard of to put on their CVs when applying for parliamentary posts. I do wonder who controls the bank accounts for ATTAC Deutschland though.

    dagmar

    September 27, 2013 at 11:59 am

  22. Andrew, you argue: “The AfD sound exactly like UKIP.
    You then go on… (In case you haven’t followed this on the ground Dagmar there are people in the very small British Communist Party and even the Trotskyist Socialist Party who think that the UKIP partly draws on a genuine class and democratic feeling against the European Union.)

    The similarities between Britain and Germany might be greater than you think (although in Hamburg earlier this month I encountered a quite substantial AfD demonstration and they seemed rather more middle class than the UKIP people I encounter in North East Kent.)

    It looks like up to 350,000 former Die Linke voters went with the AfD which rather suggests that electorates are rather more diverse and complex than your model suggests.

    It is pretty clear that in Kent, where the UKIP did exceptionally well, that it won many working class voters.

    This is the actually existing working class that we have. Perhaps you could magic into existence a different working class, one more perfectly suitable for its historical tasks and save us the disagreeable task of convincing people who don’t agree with us.

    Your clumsy irony about UKIP’s failure to get MPs elected even though many vote for it betrays both a contempt for the very many ordinary people who see no expression of their interests in the parties of austerity and EU orthodoxy, and contempt for their democratic rights.

    At the purely instrumental level it is better to have a pure expression of voter preferences because this aids clarity and facilitates greater transparency around class interests. The effect of voting systems like the German 5% threshold or the British FPTP system that function to deny large numbers of people the right to elect who they choose is to give right wing demagogues an extra argument and allow them to present themselves as victims of conspiracy.

    Nick Wright

    September 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm

  23. Ah, the Jusos – I did a long paper on them when I was at Warwick University.

    I learnt a lot from my lecturer on German politics, Willie Patterson.

    Stephen Padgett and William Paterson

    THE RISE AND FALL OF THE WEST GERMAN LEFT

    http://newleftreview.org/I/186/stephen-padgett-william-paterson-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-west-german-left

    Andrew Coates

    September 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm

  24. Andrew, your presentation of the UKIP issue conflates the class essence of UKIP’s political programme with the mixed class basis of its electoral appeal.
    This is what the Communist Party actually says (as opposed to your and Dagmar’s pastiche.

    “Some English and British nationalists tend to oppose the EU because they fear or resent close relations with foreigners. However, as in the case of UKIP, this antipathy rarely extends into areas such as Britain’s subservient political and military relationship with the USA.
    It is not the principle of foreign relations which angers them.
    They understood the value of the British Empire and imperialist policies in the past, as they understand the global role that the US (and NATO, the IMF, the World Trade Organisation etc.) plays in protecting capitalist interests and investments today.
    Beginning within Europe itself, the EU has spearheaded the global drive for deregulation and privatisation. For that reason, many Tories and most sections of big business do not favour British withdrawal from the EU.
    However, emboldened by three decades of privatisation, deregulation and anti-trade union laws in Britain, they strongly believe that the EU need not grant any concessions to the working class in Britain and elsewhere in the name of ‘social partnership’ or a ‘social Europe’.
    Furthermore, they reject attempts to create an equal playing field across Europe at the expense of finance capital’s almost total freedom in the City of London, or at the expense of Britain’s especially harsh anti-trade union and flexible labour market laws.
    That is why the Tories want to renegotiate relations between Britain and the EU, while stopping short of withdrawal.
    UKIP, on the other hand, believes that an even more right-wing government in Britain should be free in future to undercut social and economic provisions in western Europe, finish off trade unionism, ignore global warming and snuggle up still closer to US imperialist power.
    This division represents a clash of views and interests within the British ruling class, although at this stage those who favour full withdrawal remain in the minority.
    Neither side has the interests of the mass of people in Britain at heart. They are arguing about how best to perpetuate super-exploitation, deregulation, privilege and inequality.
    However, both the Euro-separatists and the Euro-sceptics attack the EU or aspects of it, playing upon a reactionary patriotism and xenophobia to garner support and conceal their class motivations.
    There is a third section of ruling class opinion, the Euro-fanatics, who see the others as jeopardising Britain’s position within the neo-liberal, big business European Union. ”

    There is more in the recent CP pamphlet
    UKIP and the EU – a labour movement view

    http://www.communist-party.org.uk/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage-ask.tpl&product_id=248&category_id=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=178

    Nick Wright

    September 29, 2013 at 10:14 am


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