Dear reader,

as it were, I have to apologise again for this very belated edition of our newsletter. So, let’s jump right into it: the election of a Minister-President in state Thuringia has caused quite an earthquake in the federal republic and has had and will have repercussions for the political landscape. See a summary of what happened on the 5th of February here after the historical win of DIE LINKE in that state last October. After the liberal minister president announced his resignation the drama did not stop and is still ongoing.

The party chair of the conservatives and chancellor candidate Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer stepped down as a result. The party faces the challenge to decide its future direction. Polls show very low approval ratings for the conservative and the liberal party.

Proceedings in the republic came to a standstill on 19th February after a racist man first shot nine people with a migration background in a Shisha bar in Hesse town Hanau, then killed his mother and himself.

Results of elections in Hanseatic town Hamburg last Sunday were influenced by the events. While party chair Bernd Riexinger urges the conservatives to clarify their relations with DIE LINKE, Katja Kipping elaborates on a future red-green coalition majority in federal parliament.

In other news, the Party of the European Left elected DIE LINKE’s Heinz Bierbaum as its new president during its congress in Spain in December last year. He announced to focus on a closer cooperation of the left in Europe.

The Berlin government approved of a highly controversial rent cap law which has the approval of its inhabitants but awaits to be put before the Federal Court of Justice by the Bundestag groups of conservatives and liberals doubting its constitutionality. The law is celebrated as an effective way of protecting renters from housing corporations which are listed at the stock market and use their property for speculation, rendering ever higher rents. A big issue in a city which is desperately in need of (affordable) housing space.

Uta Wegner
DIE LINKE dept. for International Policy

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State Elections in Hamburg on 23.02.2020

Elections for the Hamburg parliament gained unexpected importance after the political events in Thuringia, the conduct of the federal parties and the debate of the conservatives about their political course. (translated excerpt of an analysis by Horst Kahrs)

Hamburg state elections 2020: wins & losses. Source: Wikipedia

Turn out grew to 63,3% (+6,8%). This increase corresponds with a growing voter turnout during state elections since 2016. Mostly the Greens benefit from it while the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the right wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) could hardly gain from any previous non-voters. The social imbalance between more affluent voters and precarious non-voters has not essentially changed.

The results allow a continuation of the red-green coalition. In total, the coalition comes out of the elections strengthened even though the weight has shifted in favour of the Greens. Read more...

Thuringia: Historical Win of DIE LINKE in State Parliament Elections

Elections took place last October and resulted in a first time win for DIE LINKE in a federal state with massive 31%. The AfD came in second with 23,4% and a plus of 12.8% - the highest growth in votes of all parties. The conservatives came in a weak third and had to accept huge losses (-11,8%). Since Social Democrats and Greens saw minor losses as well, there was no majority for the continuation of the red-red-green government. The Liberals barely crossed the 5% threshold.

Results, Gains and Losses. Source: Wikipedia

Since no party was willing to enter a coalition with the AfD, there was no chance of a majority government. The conservatives and the liberals had already excluded any cooperation with either AfD or DIE LINKE.

(f.l.t.r.) party chair Kipping, PM Ramelow, parliamentariy party leader Hennig-Wellsow, party chair Riexinger

A majority would need 46 out of the 90 seats in the Thuringian parliament. Then Minister President Bodo Ramelow declared DIE LINKE the winner of the elections, thus initiating coalition talks with Greens and Social Democrats. They would only be able to form a minority government. The plan was to cooperate issue by issue with conservatives and liberals.

Seats. Source: Wikipedia

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The "Dam Break" - Election of Minister-President in Thuringia

The election of the new Minister-President was due on February 5th. Ramelow was the red-red-green candidate while the AfD presented their own largely unknown candidate. It was clear from the start that Ramelow would have a hard time receiving the absolute majority of votes in the first and second ballot. In the third round though only a relative majority would have been sufficient to elect a candidate. Hopes were high that this was the moment the “left” camp would get the desired votes. Yet, what happened next turned out to cause ripples not only on national level. The liberals presented a third candidate in the third round for which not only liberals and conservatives but eventually the AfD voted so that he gained the majority of 45 compared to 44 votes for Ramelow.
Paul Wellsow has more on this “dam break” in a text for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Right that day spontaneus protests broke out in several German towns and a call for nationwide manifestations by the German Trade Union and the alliance “Unteilbar” (indivisible) was announced for the 15th of February to reject any pact with fascists. The call of "Unteilbar" in English.
In Erfurt alone 18.000 protesters took to the streets.

Eventually, the liberal candidate, Thomas Kemmerich, resigned a day after he accepted the position and remains as acting MP with no ministers or government in place.

The disastrous dealing with the situation by conservatives and liberals led to consequences on national level. Chancellor candidate Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced to step down from the position of party leader. Liberal party leader Christian Lindner initiated a vote of no confidence but was confirmed in position by the party board. State party leader of the conservatives, Mike Mohring, also announced to step down.
The polls showed growing support for DIE LINKE while the CDU must worry about their standing as a “people’s party”. Currently, the stalemate in Thuringia is not resolved. Attempts to install a preliminary MP and initiate new elections were rejected by the CDU precisely because of their bad showings.

Polls of 14.02.2020 compared to results of 27.10.2019. Source: dawum

DIE LINKE party chair Bernd Riexinger calls on the conservative party to clarify their stance on DIE LINKE while Katja Kipping explores options for a red-red-green majority for the next federal elections in newspaper Zeit (translated excerpts):

“To not miss the right moment but to seize the opportunity for new political majorities beyond the conservatives – this is the current challenge for the progressive political parties in Germany. The developments in Thuringia and the political earthquake resulting from the opening of the conservative parties towards the AfD made it more than clear: now is the right moment, today.

The upcoming federal election offers more than any of the previous ones the chance for political change. It will become a fight over the principal course of our republic. This became obvious with the resignation of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer at the latest. It will not just be about how much social security we can realise or whether an ecological transformation will be successful which does not go at the expense of the poorest. It will be about the republican fundamental consensus of our society. The events in Thuringia show that this is at stake.”

“It is clear that Angela Merkel will not run again. The decisive question will be: what comes after the Grand Coalition (of Conservatives and Social Democrats)? (…) Three pathways can be imagined: firtsly, an authoritarian capitalism, the alliance of conservatives and national right-wing. Secondly, a modernised neoliberalism with a green touch, an alliance of conservatives and green party. And thirdly, a socio-economic turn which can only be carried by parties left of the conservatives. Only a joint left government would be capable of a real policy change which could lastingly alleviate climate change, military escalation, the shift to the right and social division.”

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Protests Against Defender 2020

In the first half of this year, mainly in April and May the NATO maneuver Defender 2020 will take place in Poland and the Baltics. 37,000 troups will be moved, 20,000 alone from the United states. With them tanks and armaments will be moved, all close to the Russian border.

DIE LINKE joined the call of peace movements to protest against this war maneuver and will take part in actions against it.

Heinz Bierbaum New President of European Left

Heinz Bierbaum (Triberg, 1946) is currently responsible for International Relations in the left-wing German party, Die Linke. He has previously served as the general secretary of the trade union IG Metall in the region of Frankfurt, regional MP in Saarland and as vice-president of Die Linke.

He speaks five European languages (German, English, Spanish, French and Italian) and, during his trade-union career, has maintained strong ties to the Italian and Catalan labour movements. He holds a doctorate in economics and worked as a university lecturer in his native Saarland, in the west of Germany. 

During his speech, delivered to the conference’s 400 participants, he described his election as ‘an opportunity and a personal challenge which will require some work’, put stated his strong desire to ‘continue building and improving the European Left’ and to strengthen the position of working people across the continent.   

The new leader of the European Left recognised that the party finds itself in a ‘difficult situation’ following the loss of seats in the European Parliament in 2019. This setback calls for a ‘critical evaluation of the future direction of the party.’


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2020 is the Year to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

While the "Day of Liberation" by the Soviet Army is still a while ahead on the 8th of May, we commemorated the liberation of concentration camp Auschwitz with the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27th of January.

On this day the Red Army of the Soviet Union liberated the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. Since then Auschwitz is a symbol for the consequences of racism, hate, antisemitism and the fascist desire to annihilate: the suffering of millions, unsurpassed horrible and cruel crimes and the mass exctinction of Jewish life in Europe. Read more...

Hanau: Oppose Misanthropic Discourse Everywhere

Widely, right-wing populist policy was blamed for laying the ground for such crimes, as more and more militant right-wing networks are discovered and the "single" incidents grow. A perpetrator in Halle attempted to enter a synagogue fully armed last October. When he failed he randomly shot two people. His motives were equally racist.

Katja Kipping calls to take a stand against militant right-wing extremism.

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The Left Works: Berlin approves of the Rent Cap

Many people are afraid of the next rent raise. The share of wages or pensions which have to mustered for the rent, constantly grows. In Berlin renters can now relax: the red-red-green state government prohibits a rent increase for the next five years (“rent stop”) and determines rent ceilings (“rent cap”). 1.5 million households will benefit from this.

We fight for affordable rents all over Germany. The federal government is stalling. Its so called “rent brake” is no use for renters and does not scare real estate corporations. On a federal level at least five million social housing units are missing. Read more...

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DIE LINKE. Internationale Politik · Kleine Alexanderstraße 28 · Berlin 10178 · Germany

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