Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 October 2005


Grand coalition against workers

GERMANY'S GENERAL election on 18 September saw a defeat for both of the so-called big peoples' parties (the social democratic SPD and the conservative CDU/CSU).

Sascha Stanicic, Socialist Alternative, Berlin

For the first time since 1953 their share of the vote fell below 70% as the SPD and CDU/CSU lost 2,294,000 and 1,851,500 votes respectively. This was a rejection by many of the working class and unemployed of the neo-liberal and anti-working class policies for which both parties stand.

The electoral bloc of the Left Party (the renamed PDS) and the newly formed WASG (Electoral Alliance Work and Social Justice) scored a big success with 4,118,000 votes, 8.7% of the vote and sent 54 MPs into the Bundestag.

The losers have now agreed to form a grand coalition government under the conservative Angela Merkel, the first female chancellor in Germany's history. Both parties will have few problems in finding an agreement on the government's policies. In fact, many major decisions of the last social democratic and green government (especially the massive attacks on the social security system called Agenda 2010 and Hartz IV), were supported by the conservative CDU/CSU.

Left pressure

Under the pressure of the mass protest movements of 2003 and 2004 against the destruction of the so-called welfare state, and the emergence of the WASG as a new political alternative on the left, the SPD put on a more left-wing cover in their election campaign. They hypocritically called for the defence of some workers' rights - which Merkel announced she would scrap if there was an election victory for the CDU/CSU and its first choice coalition partner the liberal FDP.

The SPD is now trying to gain a 'social' profile by claiming that they secured agreement in the negotiations with the CDU/CSU over the launching of the Grand Coalition so that the collective bargaining legislation will not be changed and that bonus payments for night and weekend shifts will remain untaxed.

This is, however, not due to a change in the SPD's policy but due to the clear signal of the election result: no more cuts in social services and workers' rights! The mood amongst workers and the pressure from below led even right-wing trade union leaders to threaten illegal political strikes in case of a change in collective bargaining legislation.

But this government will be a government of anti-working class policies. It is likely that the legal safeguards against redundancies will be worsened and the coalition agreement includes a call on the trade unions to accept more company-based wage and working hour agreements, which effectively means an undermining of industry wide collective bargaining.

Bosses' offensive

Ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schršder had previously threatened to change the legislation if the trade unions did not accept a "companyisation" of wage and working hour agreements. Also, a new austerity programme is likely with further attacks on the social security system.

This goes hand-in-hand with an ongoing offensive by the capitalists in the workplaces. Mercedes, Siemens, AEG, VW and many other companies have announced big job reductions. Wages and working hours are attacked as well.

But the election result means a strengthening of the Left and a motivation for activists in the trade unions and social movements. It is the task of the new left-wing faction in parliament to use its positions and resources to build a strong movement against this capitalist government and support workers' struggles. On that basis a new mass socialist party of the German working class can be built.

Strong Left wing

However, the reformist policies of the national Left leaders like Lafontaine and Gysi (along with the participation of the Left Party/PDS in regional governments which implement social cuts and privatisation), makes this uncertain. It is therefore necessary to build a strong socialist force in the process of building a new left-wing party in Germany.

The possiblility of organising a fightback, if a lead is given, is shown by the striking university hospital workers in southern Germany. Thousands have taken strike action recently in defence of their wages and working hours in a sector which has no tradition of struggle.

The new government will be a government of instability and crisis and it is an open question as to whether it will last its four year term. It will be confronted with a new and strong left-wing opposition in parliament and resistance against attacks by the working class.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 13 October 2005:

Asian earthquake disaster: Poor abandoned again

Socialists killed in Kalam

Appeal from the Trade Union Rights Campaign

Kick the fat cats out of the NHS

Socialism 2005: Our big weekend of discussion and debate!

United action needed to defend pensions

Kinnock repeats bitter attack

Clear Oliver Campbell's name

Venezuela: Socialism back on the agenda

Sri Lanka: USP launches election campaign

Peace in Algeria?

Germany: Grand coalition against workers


Home   |   The Socialist 13 October 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleGermany: Election results in political earthquake

triangleGerman elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

triangleBerlin hospital strike

triangleWomen's struggles reduced to perfume sales and career ladder


triangleThe Socialist's 2017 quiz

triangleBlairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

triangleCorbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangleCorbyn must challenge pro-gentrification council leader or others will





Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict



A world in crisis, ripe for revolution



Trump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse



Irish capitalist state: rotten to the core



Fighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle



Trump's tax attacks



Australia: massive yes vote for marriage equality



Zimbabwe: Mugabe gone - but his regime remains in power



USA: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis



US: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis



Sweden: 'Revolution2017' success



Spain: Madrid rally celebrates October revolution



US: Minneapolis Socialist chimes with voters



Ireland: rail workers demand share of 'recovery'



Ireland: dangerous ideas for the ruling class

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Dec Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

More ...

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice