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Report about DIE LINKE Party Congress in Hannover

From 9th to 11th of June DIE LINKE held its congress in Hannover where the electoral programme for upcoming federal elections in September was debated and resolved. The delegates had to vote on more than 300 amendments to the 15 chapters of the draft programme.

More then sixty guests from Europe, Africa, Latin America and all around the world joined us and followed the debates.
  
The main issue the media thought to get solved by the congress was whether DIE LINKE is planning its election campaign towards being a possible partner for a government coalition or with a clear message for opposition. Prime candidate Dietmar Bartsch addressed this as follows: “And there is a question, which we all – Sarah or Katja or Bernd or me – receive today, again and again: government strategy or opposition strategy? And I can say there is just one clear answer: success strategy, dear comrades, that is our road map.”

DIE LINKE will focus on its main issues and political programme. A political change is more than necessary for this country, the European Union, and the world. According to latest polls Social Democrats, Greens and DIE LINKE combined would gain around 40 percent of the votes. But even with better results there would be no automatism of coalition building.

The party chairs as well as the top candidates made it clear that a governmental role will only be an option for DIE LINKE with the right partners, as Sarah Wagenknecht pointed out: “It is also quite clear what we do not stand for. That is the already noticeable diversity of coalition options with which one can pursue a neoliberal policy – which today range from conservative-liberal to great coalition (conservative, social democratic), from Jamaica to a SPD-Green coalition. We have had them all and each of them pursued neoliberal policies.What we don’t want and what we won’t do is to enrichen this diversity of coalition options with another version which calls itself red-red-green but in the end does the same as before.

Bernd Riexinger explained: “DIE LINKE is standing on two legs. One is social justice, the other one is peace. If one leg is cut we cannot go far with the other one. That’s why with us there will be no combat mission of the Bundeswehr abroad; not even as a door opener for a government coalition.”

Katja Kipping encouraged the members in her speech: "Dear comrades, especially now when everything is open and nothing seems to be sure anymore, a party is needed that reliably fight. And we will fight with all our energy for better conditions for the middle class, and conditions in which no one, no child in this country, has to live in poverty. In times like these we need a party which can be relied on."

The German version of the electoral programme is available here: https://www.die-linke.de/wahlen/wahlprogramm/ (An English short version will be published soon.)

Speeches in German are available here: https://www.die-linke.de/partei/parteistruktur/parteitag/hannoverscher-parteitag-2017/reden-und-grussworte/

Summary of the electoral programme

A lot has been said about social justice. However, rarely it is made clear what it really means, what it takes, who benefits and who has to contribute more. DIE LINKE wants a change for more justice. We cannot have it for free, not for a song and not without conflict with corporations, the super rich or their political allies. DIE LINKE has a programme for social justice that is feasible and has been calculated thoroughly. It would make most people’s everyday life easier: less pressure at work and less fear of making ends meet by the end of the month. We want a future worth fighting for.

Good jobs and social guarantees: We raise the minimum wage to € 12. And we do away with fixed-term contracts without objective reasons, temporary employment, and the abuse of service contracts. We want shorter working hours for everyone instead of involuntary leisure time for some and overtime for others. About 30 hours of work per week, depending on people’s life plans, should do. We replace Hartz IV (welfare scheme) by a minimum benefit of € 1050 without sanctions. It must be possible to draw unemployment benefit longer and more quickly.

A good pension must be poverty-proof and safeguard the living standard. The pension level must be raised to 53 per cent of the average wage again. For an average pensioner this amounts to € 130 more a month. The pensions in the east will be adjusted to those in the west of Germany immediately. Low-income periods shall be aligned upwards: For a shop assistant this would be € 270 more a month. Those who receive less than € 1050 pension will receive a solidary minimum pension.

We will increase the tax on higher incomes to lift the burden from low and medium incomes. All those (singles, tax class 1) who earn less than € 7100 a month will pay less taxes: those who earn € 1700 will retain € 130 more while those who earn € 3400 will keep € 215 more. Instead, we impose higher taxes on high incomes and managerial incomes. We will abolish reduced tax rates for capital incomes (settlement tax).

There is enough for everybody to take if everyone contributes enough. We want to impose a wealth tax of 5% for assets of two million Euros and more. We invest in good schools, day-care facilities, and hospitals. We improve public transport and support local communities. We will bring about a new beginning in social and non-profit housing construction.

Stop rent increases. Rents will be limited to € 8.50 per square metre in areas whose social composition is to be preserved. Lower rents will be frozen. We will have 250,000 new flats built in the social and non-profit housing sector each year. No housing speculation! We want to take away the licenses from real estate funds.

Fight child poverty! We will increase the child allowance to € 328. Education will be free of charge from day-care facilities to universities. Free and healthy lunches will be offered in schools and day-care centres. Children should be granted free fares on busses and trains. Until then a minimum child benefit of € 564 will protect all children and youths from poverty.

An end to the two-tier health care. We shall create a solidarity-based health insurance into which everyone pays no matter what income. Employers and employees share the health-care contribution equally, thus, reducing the over individual contribution and making patients’ additional payments for medical drugs, glasses and dentures redundant. Nursing care must not lead to poverty: We shall establish a solidarity-based nursing-care insurance system which requires no additional payments. Everyone can be looked after adequately and at close proximity of their places of residence.

Peace only comes through disarmament. We want to ban arms exports and combat the causes of flight. The Bundeswehr must not be sent on missions abroad. The government plans to increase military spending by € 25 billion – we want to save € 10 billion.

Save climate or capitalism? Global justice! We want the European Union to make a fresh start: peaceful, social and democratic. We shall put an end to unsocial cuts in Europe and free-trade agreements such as TTIP, TiSA and CETA. We champion fair trade and a just policy on development instead of free trade. We campaign for a social and sustainable energy transition protecting the environment and resources.
 

10th Birthday of DIE LINKE and “Fest der Linken”

While in the east of Germany, the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism, predecessor of DIE LINKE)had been a reliable opposition against the neoliberal politics of the so called “Agenda 2010” of chancellor Gerhard Schröder, in the west left-minded people from social democrats, unions and social movements founded the WASG (Wahlalternative Soziale Gerechtigkeit – Electoral Alternative Social Justice) as a party in January 2005. During regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia in May 2005, when PDS as well as WASG clearly missed the 5-%-threshold it became obvious that only a left alliance of PDS and WASG could have a chance in national snap elections of September 2005. With their personal decision to run as candidates for this alliance Gregor Gysi and Oskar Lafontaine gave hope for a common project. In the following weeks and month many people worked together on building the party. Bodo Ramelow, Klaus Ernst and Uli Maurer prepared the framework for the new party. With patience and insistence Lothar Bisky worked for unification at eye level.  Especially women like Dagmar Enkelmann or Katja Kipping organized communication and compromises behind the scenes. On the 16th of June in 2007 we finally could celebrate the unification of PDS and WASG and the founding of the new party DIE LINKE.

Since then, we fight as DIE LINKE for peace, social justice and democracy; in the parliament and on the streets, in regional governments and as opposition, in east and west, north and south. DIE LINKE is more than the combination of two parties; many people joined us just after the unification to fill the idea of a new left project with energy. The 10th birthday of our party was celebrated at the evening of 16th June in Berlin with a ceremony at the Volksbühne theater with commemorations, talks, music, debates and look outs into the future.

Celebrations continued the next day at our annual “Festival of the Left” with music, talks, cultural programme, and more.

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