Published on WSWS, by Sybille Fuchs, 1 September 2009.
Following a series of electoral defeats for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and a pronounced decline in that party’s membership, the Left Party is evidently looking to develop political relations with parties even further to the right on the German political spectrum …
… As a longtime member of the PDS, Zimmermann is very well aware of the party’s record and knows that it has supported pro-business, anti-welfare policies in all those regions where it has held power. Berlin is not the exception, but rather the rule.
Some prominent members of the Left Party in western Germany claim, however, that they pursue a different and more radical policy than the Left Party in the east of the country where many former cadre of the East German Stalinist party – the SED (Socialist Unity Party) – still hold major political positions.
At a meeting in Bielefeld in March, for example, a leading figure in the western German Left Party, Sarah Wagenknecht, told WSWS reporters that the devastating social balance-sheet in Berlin was the product of east German PDS members and was not representative of the Left Party. The fact that the Left Party is now extending its hand to the right-wing CDU in the west of the country makes a mockery of this stance.
The results of the local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia over the weekend make clear that while the CDU lost support the SPD was unable to capitalize. Increasingly political commentators are pointing to the necessity of collaboration between the SPD and Left Party, possibly in a union with the Greens, in order to contain growing popular discontent. The significance of Zimmermann’s comments is that the Left Party will not restrict its collaboration to the SPD and the Greens, but is also prepared to work together with the CDU, the principal party of postwar German capitalism.
Most municipalities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are heavily in debt due to the desperate financial situation and are under considerable pressure to undertake even more drastic social cuts. Zimmermanns’ offer to the CDU makes clear that the Left Party will not stand in the way of such anti-social policies.
Using the argument that it was necessary to prevent the worst, housing stock in East German municipalities—e.g. in Dresden and Berlin—has been sold off to private equity firms, all with the support of the Left Party. The result of such a policy is higher rents and a deterioration of tenant services.
In the east of the country there have already been a number of examples of collaboration between the Left Party and the CDU. In 2006 the Left Party and the CDU supported a joint candidate for the post of mayor in Cottbus and both parties shared posts in 2008 in the city administration of Chemnitz. (full text).