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Elections in Berlin

On Sunday, 18th September, the Berlin House of Representatives as well as the local disctrict representatives have been elected. As of now, a government coalition of Social Democrats, Lefts and Greens becomes palpable. According to preliminary results the Social Democracts won elections for Berlin House of Representatives ahead of their former coalition partner, the Christian Conservatives. The former major parties lost more than twelve percent combined and each of them reached their worst after war-results in Berlin. The Social Democrats can continue to govern, yet they have to look out for two partners: there is no majority for a two-party coalition anymore.

After preliminary results the SPD gained 21,6 percent (2011: 28,3). The Christian Conservatives reached position two with 17,6 percent (2011: 23,3). DIE LINKE gained position three with 15,6 percent (2011: 11,7) and thus briefly surpassed the Greens with 15,2 percent (2011: 17,6). The Liberals (FDP) return to parliament with 6,7 percent (2011: 1,8). Expectedly, the Pirates were knocked out of parliament with 1,7 percent (20111: 8,9).

The AfD (rightwing populist Alternative for Germany) gained 14,2 percent and is now represented in 10 out of 16 Land parliaments. Furthermore, five politicians of the AfD got directly elected.

The allocation of seats in parliament will be as follows: SPD 38 seats, CDU 31 seats, LINKE 27 seats, Greens 27 seats, AfD 25 seats, and FDP 12 seats.


Voter turnout was clearly higher with 66,9% compared to 2011 (60,2%).

Germanwide Demonstrations Against CETA and TTIP

On Saturday, 320.000 took to the streets in seven German towns to demonstrate against the free trade agreements CETA and TTIP. Next week, the EU trade ministers will decide on CETA and need the vote of Sigmar Gabriel to do so. Yet, if on Monday at the party convent of the Social Democrats, the delegates will vote against the agreement, Gabriel, as party leader and representative in the EU trade minister meeting, will sit on the fence with most of the party delegates being opposed to it. If Germany does not ratify CETA it will fail and in the end maybe even TTIP.

Demonstrations surpassed all expectations and we have to hope that party leaders will consider this clear sign during their vote.
 

Varoufakis, Kipping, Lederer: A Left Change in Europe

A peaceful, open Europe of solidarity, not of austerity and exclusion: That's what DIE LINKE and the democratic movement DiEM25 are fighting for. Yet, currently we are far from fulfilling this vision. Despite all social distortions, the ruling elites and neoliberals promote a disorganised and inconsiderate continuation of the fatal austerity and cutting dictate. Rightwing populists preach the withdrawal to nationalism and fortress mentality.

How can a progressive left oppose this scheme? How to work out a turnaround in the European fight for democracy and social justice? How do we save the European idea from the neoliberals and rightwing populists? And how can we - here in Berlin - contribute; in a city where the German government is spearheading the European austerity policy?

Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister of the Tsipras government, and co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement discusses with Katja Kipping, party chair of DIE LINKE, and Klaus Lederer, prime candidate of DIE LINKE for Berlin house of representatives elections.

"Let's start here in Berlin to build a coalition for affordable housing, social conditions, and against gentrification and more surveillance. A European coalition for democracy and social justice and against the growing nationalism." Varoufakis

Elections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Two weeks ago a new Land parliament was elected.
The party landscape in Meckenburg-Western Pomerania experienced a real break. All parties represented in German Bundestag or the Land parliament had to accept losses. The Greens slightly missed entering the parliament, the liberal party FDP did not succeed in reentering. The SPD became the biggest party and will name the next prime minister, together with CDU or DIE LINKE as partner. The Social Democratic Party lost 5 percent compared to the results of 2011; but less than polls in spring had predicted (22%). After two legislations the NPD missed the entry into the parliament, her former voters mostly voted for the new party “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD). They won above-average votes from former non-voters and from all other parties. In 23 of 26 electoral districts the AfD got more than 20 percent of the second votes, in one electoral district – Vorpommern-Greifswald II – they even reached 30 percent.

DIE LINKE reached 13,2 percent – 5,2 percent less than in 2011 -  and got 11 out of 71 seats in the Landtag. Voter turnout had risen to 61,6 percent (in 2011 it had been 51,5 percent) in favor of AfD.

As in the Land parliamentary elections in spring, the political debates in Meckenburg-Western Pomerania were determined by the so called refugee-question and anti-muslim atmosphere. National debates about alleged threats prepared a public discourse, in which the AfD could be successful.

In Meckenburg-Western Pomerania economic growth is low, unemployment is high and there is a high quota of precarious jobs compared to other parts of Germany. The region is suspended and divided. Pre-electoral polls had been wrong in drawing a picture of a stable society. In polls before the election three quarter of people interviewed said they were satisfied with their personal economic situation. What was not really visible: fears, insecurity in general, the state of crisis as permanent condition, ramshackled infrastructure, decline in political participation and local civil society engagement.

Gregor Gysi, the longtime head of DIE LINKE group in German parliament, after a lot of talks, resolved upon running for Bundestag in 2017 once more. "Especially from my constituency many signals and appeals reached me to run for parliament again. After careful thought, I cannot abdicate from this and will, if my party nominates me, fight as direct candidate to represent Treptow-Köpenick, in my opinion the most beautiful disctrict of Berlin , once again in the German parliament."

Cold Coup d'Etat in Brazil

31. August 2016 Tobias Pflüger

 

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff today has been deposed of her office. To this, vice party chair of DIE LINKE Tobias Pflüger declares:

The impeachment against Dilma Rousseff is a cold coup d'etat which has been coordinated between parts of the parliamentarian opposition, justice, and media. The charges layed against Rousseff to massage budget figures served the opposition as a pretence to push the president, who was democratically elected in 2014, out of office. Prosecutable corruption cannot be proven against her, the fight of corruption was on her political agenda. Ironically enough her opponents are involved in bribery scandals and now want to save their necks. In the meantime, former president of parliament, Eduardo Cunha, who opened the procedure against Rousseff, has been removed from office because of corruption. Behind the procedure, which only helped the opposition to get to power without democratically legitimised elections, stand clear economic and political interests.

The decision now reached in the senate is a step backwards for democracy and for Brazil. The political direction the ultra conservative interim government is heading for has already become obvious: The interim cabinet, which exclusively consists of white men, already deposed of several ministries, among them that for women and for the implementation of the agrarian reform. Cuts and privatisations are on the agenda of this government.

DIE LINKE condems this cold coup d'etat against the PT (Partido dos Trabahadores/Workers Party) and declares her solidarity. We support the demand for new elections because the Brazilian people should themselve decide wether they actually want the current reactionary interim government or rather democracy, social justice, and a progressive Brazil. Furthermore, DIE LINKE asks the German government to condem this coup d'etat and not to acknowledge the impeachment.

Just "Local Residents"?

 Wednesday night violence broke out in the centre of Saxon town Bautzen. Around 80 rightwing extremists turned violently against 20 underage refugees.

 „After the repreated racist outbreaks of violence and hate against refugees, politicians, and journalists in Bautzen it needs to be stated that not only the Saxon police has failed – representatives of the media also do not always fulfil their task of informative reporting,“ criticises Dominic Heilig, member of the executive board of DIE LINKE:
 
Police in Saxony today announced that it „has been quiet in the last night“ in Bautzen; and adds coyly that merely 350 people gathered at the town centre's market in the evening. „Obviously“, say agencies, those persons were „rightwing extremists“. Other reports, uncritically copied, speak in this context naively of „local residents“. The picture painted here can be thus summarised: local residents against foreigners! On one side the „citizens“ and on the other „refugees“ or – as well informed sources say – antifascists and antiracists having come from „Leipzig and Dresden“.
 
Five years after the self-exposure of the nazi terrorgroup NSU, whose safe haven famously was Saxony, nothing is left from the assertion „We have learned out of the NSU murders“. The belittling depiction of organised rightwing extremists as „local residents“ is dangerous and is supposed to colour all those as civic who do not have anything civic or democratic about them.

It is high time that state institutions in Saxony finally perform their task to offensively proceed against racists and rightwing extremists. And it is high time that representatives of the media as well rethink and once again take up their heaviest weapon: information and an according language.

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