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May 23, 2005: The Open Political Crisis of the Berlin Government Offers Great Chances and a New Challenge for the MLPD.

Red Flag interview with Stefan Engel, chairman of the MLPD

stefan-engel.jpgRed Flag: The election evening yesterday displayed a drama, a hectic rush, and even panic. The SPD/Green government in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia with the largest population was elected out of power. The CDU could gain votes and is likely to form a new federal state government together with the FDP. Chancellor Schröder announced already some minutes after the closing of the polling stations early national reelections in the fall of this year. What is actually going on here?

Stefan Engel: We are experiencing an open political crisis of the government in Berlin. Those in power can no longer rule in the old way, and the masses are no more prepared to let themselves be ruled in the old way. When Schröder realizes that the "political basis for the continuation of his work has been called into question", this statement is really not only referring to the bad election results in North Rhine-Westphalia. There those things only found expression that have developed during the last months: the active resistance against Hartz IV (the antisocial laws of the government) could by no means be broken. The independent strike at Opel (GM) in October 2004 for the preservation of jobs was an expression of the fact that the reformist policy of class collaboration, especially within the core of the industrial proletariat, was no more working well. The transition to the working class offensive on a broad front initiated last fall and the involvement of the masses in the struggle against the monopolies and the government are the real cause for the disaster of the Schröder/Fischer government and its open political crisis. What is the use of a social democratic government for the monopolies, if it is no more able to influence, bind and control the thinking, feeling and acting lastingly especially of the workers?

Red Flag: How does this assessment go together with the gains for the CDU, which could gain about 1 million votes plus compared to the last federal state election?

Stefan Engel: The gains for the CDU show, of course, that the criticism of the Schröder/Fischer government is not yet conducted with a revolutionary consciousness! However, it would be totally wrong to conclude from this election an agreement of the masses of the aims and objectives of the CDU or even of their candidates. Election analyses show that most of the voters today hardly vote for a certain policy in a positive sense, but express with their vote a rejection of a certain policy, mostly that of the governmental parties. The SPD has clearly lost most votes among the workers, the employed workers as well as the unemployed people. Many of them did not go to the polls or cast an invalid ballot paper. Mainly unemployed people voted for the left reformist "WASG" , which did not come up to its own expectations with little more than 2 per cent and could not take the five-percent hurdle. Regarding the gains for the CDU we have to take into consideration three aspects. First, the CDU lost an over proportional amount of votes in the last federal state election in the year 2000 due to the Kohl crisis at that time and the donation scandal of the CDU. Now it could gain back some of its own reservoir of voters. Second, it gained a great deal from the weakness of the FDP. This is indeed a problematic "strengthening", because this has been completely achieved at the expense of its own bourgeois coalition partner. Third, Rüttgers [the top CDU candidate - translator] expressively criticized the unsocial component of the Hartz IV laws, thus giving the impression that he is in opposition the national CDU which supported these laws. In the elections tactical considerations are playing a more and more important role, while the number of voters out of conviction is decreasing tendentiously.

Red Flag: Which role did the MLPD play during the last weeks, since it did not stand for the federal state election?

Stefan Engel: First of all one must say that the MLPD was always present in this election campaign, especially in its final stage. We were one of the main organizers of the Whitsun Youth Meeting in Gelsenkirchen. This international festival of the future for young and old people should not take place according to the wish of the SPD, the Greens and the CDU. However, their open anti-communism was a disaster for them in an unprecedented way - and this was even confirmed by the supreme courts! And this by far biggest event during the election campaign was the Whitsun Youth Meeting together with the Anti-Hartz-IV demonstration attended by 5,000 to 6,000 people which take took place at Whitsun as well and was supported by a broad spectrum. Then there was the debate on capitalism as the main electoral issue - this was not an idea of Müntefering. He has merely jumped on the bandwagon of a broad social debate, where since long there has been a broad and deep discussion about a social alternative and where the perspective of genuine socialism is gaining new attraction. Millions of people consider the criticism of capitalism as being mostly appropriate and exactly for this reason they do not believe one single word of the capitalist governmental politicians when they are making seemingly critical statements about capitalism. Müntefering even does not know what he should be more afraid of: If the SPD evades the criticism of capitalism it misses the boat for the decisive political issue, and if it expresses this criticism it does not - like the magician apprentice - get rid of the spirits it invoked. It was no accident that the top candidate of the SPD, Steinbrück, railed against the MLPD together with Schröder and Müntefering at the final rally on Friday in Dortmund. As before on May Day in Gelsenkirchen he saw in every critic of the governmental policy a MLPD supporter - and saw himself suddenly and permanently surrounded by such critics.

Red Flag: What will the MLPD undertake in view of the early national reelections.?

Stefan Engel: At any rate we will make our stand in an offensive way as a socialist alternative in this political atmosphere! This also means that we will participate in the elections in one way or another. In my view this is expected by our members, by our political friends and supporters in the militant opposition and in addition by a growing number of people. This simply corresponds to the new social role in which the MLPD is currently growing into. The question how this participation in the elections will take shape in concrete terms is being discussed in our party now. On the basis of this democratic discussion the Central Committee will discuss and decide. We do not have much time. However, one thing is out of question even now: In this summer and fall it will be the tactical main task of the MLPD to use this open political crisis in the way to make great steps forward in the marxist-leninist party building and the development of the militant opposition. In my opinion a guideline in this process should be that everybody in Germany who is looking for a genuine alternative and who wants a real change can underline this with a decision in the elections. So we are facing a challenge which mainly means much systematic work among the rank and file and organizational work. In any case it will mean a further great step forward on the road to breaking through the relative isolation of the MLPD and in extending its social relevance.

Red Flag: Thank you very much for this talk and we wish the MLPD much success in this decision-making!


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