In her novel “Unterleuten”, the German author Julie Zeh is describing a fictitious village in the East German state of Brandenburg, but it might as well be located in my home state Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in Alsace or in the US-American rust-belt. Nowadays, those winning political elections in these areas are populist representatives, such as AfD, Front National or Donald Trump. When that happens, the establishment is horrified. That is also true for DIE LINKE, the German party THE LEFT, by many already considered as part of the establishment, although I consider that to be untrue. Now the question occurs, what follows the shock? What happens in the aftermath?
It appears that those governing Germany prefer to ride it out, rather than bringing about real change. “More of the same,” seems to be their motto. They encourage the trade agreement CETA now more than ever and don’t prevent the export of arms into war zones. German officials attack Russian leader Vladimir Putin, while making overtures to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They also claim employment miracles, based on a culture of job insecurity that has been cultivated in Germany over recent decades. More money has been spent on arms, while citizens on social welfare experience a drastic care cut. Accompanied by the imminent danger of old-age poverty and an increasing rate of child poverty.
Chancellor Angela Merkel reminds us of values and tends to moralize, meanwhile the German Federal Intelligence Service and our once prestigious car company Volkswagen stand more and more for lies and deception. While the refugee crisis is still going on, human rights became negotiable. One governing party “rents out Sozis,” another one is issuing unconstitutional ultimatums.
There exists obscene wealth in the Federal Republic of Germany. Meanwhile, the most important issues that need to be addressed urgently, to turn our nation into a sustainable one, are being ignored: the redistribution of wealth for the benefit of social justice in our society. A grand tax reform and a real pension reform, as well as the revision of our welfare system, still remain on the agenda. The German government loses itself in small reforms, and abandons the responsibility to adjust life standards in East and West Germany on equal terms.
The problem DIE LINKE appears to have
DIE LINKE developed numerous concepts but appears to have a major problem: while our analyses are widely respected, very few believe in our abilities to solve these issues. Why? Perhaps we have missed out on expressing our willingness to lead, as of yet. Sometimes it is easier to draw stop lines than plans of action. Long debates over the eventuality of leading this country can discourage potential voters. Often we fail to communicate the “utility value”, we as a party ought to provide for our voters.
Growing fears are also impacting the middle class. The fears of losing employment and as a result not being able to pay the rent, sudden illness and the resulting dependency on family members. These citizens are not served well with complex attempts to explain the world. DIE LINKE shouldn’t only interpret, but bring about change. A socialist party must attempt to impact the relations of capital and labor.
Social justice, placidity and sustainability have to be in the center of left-wing politics today. In government, as well as in the opposition, the responsibility remains the same. Sometimes, in order to govern, preconditions need to be right, the mood has to be right. Often parliamentary majorities are not sufficient for a change. The current parliament shows that. The Social Democratic Party, SPD, is lowering the bar a bit, but is missing the courage to oppose the right-wing trend in German society by clearly defining left-wing political perspectives.
Social Democrats, The Green Party and DIE LINKE can create good conditions for a Mid-Left-Alliance. But we still have a lot of work to do to realize that plan. We recently started the process by meeting with our potential coalition partners for an exchange of ideas and sentiments. In 2017 DIE LINKE will compete as an independent, political force. We will be showing a clear profile and have answers ready for the most pressing matters of our time.