The Die Linke headquarters, fully-packed with interested listeners, saw a lively discussion on the new left, which is quickly gaining ever growing support in Europe. The meeting started by extending congratulations to the HDP, a Turkish left-wing party supporting Kurdish autonomy, for reaching the 10% threshold in the Turkish elections and getting into parliament and ended with a call for mobilisation on the 20th of June, the kick-off day for a European week of action. Representatives of SYRIZA, Podemos, and Izquierda Unida discussed with Bernd Riexinger, party leader of Die Linke, the current position of the Greek government, social movements all over Europe, the electoral chances of the left in different countries, and much more.
Struggles in the South
Giorgios Chondros, member of the central committee of SYRIZA, gave a quick overview of what has happened between the election victory on January 25th of this year and the current deadlock of today between the Greek government and the believers of the failed austerity policies. The discussants agreed that the neoliberal elites could not allow the SYRIZA government to succeed, as that would become an example of the possible accomplishments of a new European left, increasing their chances of electoral victory and giving them a possibility to challenge these elites.
Giorgios: “We have the broad support of the Greek people, but we need the solidarity of the people of Europe. Because that’s what could unite us, the fight against austerity politics exist all throughout Europe.”
Pedro Aranda of Podemos and Miguel Sanchez of Izquierda Unida, who are both active for their respective parties in Germany, discussed the developments in Spain. Pedro started with establishing the birth of Podemos as the political expression of the recent social struggles of the 15M movement, the movement against house evictions, along with other movements in Spain. But he also pointed out that there is now much broader support for the party, even outside of leftwing circles, and that their aim is to gain support for their platform and policies from the broad basis of society.
Miguel pointed out that what is happening in Europe is that people are gaining an increasing understanding of capitalist exploitation because of the crisis policies of their respective governments. Miguel echoed Yorgos’ call by saying that what unites Podemos and Izquirda Unida, along with the other leftwing parties in Europe, is their common opposition to austerity politics.
Prospects in Germany
Bernd Riexinger compared this to the German situation, where the understanding of this system of exploitation is still largely absent. He added, though, that the struggles that are happening now in Germany, i.e. the recent strikes and protests, are chipping away at this conservative state of mind, piece by piece.
Bernd: “We are now seeing the strongest and largest strike movement for many years, with children’s day care employees, postal workers, Amazon employees, and workers at Siemens all struggling against precarious working conditions. Other struggles such as Blockupy, anti-G7, and anti-TTIP are also gaining traction and bringing tens of thousands of people into the streets.”
These signs are hopeful, but he stressed the need to be realistic with the assessment of the situation in Germany, saying that a longer buildup of social movements is necessary. That is why Die Linke as a party is now orienting itself towards the struggles of social movement, while at the same time building strength in the party circles. The current campaign, “Dass mus drin sein”, aims to combine the two.
The Left, the International Working Group of Die Linke, was very happy with the good attendance and the interesting debate. We support the call to come out in Berlin on the 20th of June for the kick-off of the European-wide week of action for a social Europe. We would also like to invite all interested parties to come to our upcoming meetings and events. The working group would also like to stress that we will do our utmost to prevent another male-dominated panel in the future.