Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Left-Wing Loonies Resurface in Germany

A new left-wing protest party, the snappily-named Wahlalternative Arbeit und Soziale Gerechtigkeit (Voting Alternative for Work and Social Justice, or WASG) is making headlines in Germany ahead of the May 22nd regional elections.

It is a genuine left-wing loony set-up, with a strong focus on Verteilungsgerechtigkeit (economic redistribution) and on taking back into state ownership services which have been privatised, such as telecoms, the postal service and cultural and sporting organisations.

Despite disagreeing with all its policies, the blog welcomes the WASG with open arms. The party is aimed at the disadvantaged and dispossessed - something Germany badly needs, with its 5 million unemployed, its uncertainties about the economic future, an utterly clueless government, and a supine opposition. A party such as WASG adds a valuable dimension to what would otherwise be a barren political landscape dominated by unsavoury and unelectable neo-Nazis. The WASG also has, in the shape of M├Ânchengladbach's candidate Britta Pietsch, a trained nurse and filmmaker, a budding political Powerfrau.

In terms of its political effects, the new party is a bit of a mixed bag. It is unlikely to surmount the 5% voting hurdle required to get any of its representatives into power, but what votes it does get will be taken from the socialist SPD. Even if it does get someone elected into parliament, the party says it would not enter into a coalition with the SPD, preferring to remain a strong oppositional party. This is good news for the centrist CDU and may indeed make a significant difference to the outcome of the election. But at the same time, the advent of a throwback protest party of this sort will also have the effect of making the policies of the dead-duck SPD/Green government seem reasonable.

At any rate, the blog welcomes the new party and wishes its comrades well, this side of a People's Revolution, of course.

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