May 30, 2005: MLPD candidates for national elections all over the country

Interview with Stefan Engel

stefan-engel.jpgRed Flag: In your interview one week ago you announced that the MLPD will participate in the national parliamentary elections and you spoke about the forthcoming process of forming an opinion about the way of candidacy within the party. How far did this process proceed and what is the current state of decision?

Stefan Engel: Since PDS, WASG and Oskar Lafontaine did not react on our offer to take part in a left election alliance we decided to run for the national parliamentary elections independently.
We will run for the elections in all federal states of Germany all over the country and in addition we will nominate direct candidates in some crucial areas. When we run for the elections we invite friendly representatives of self-organized organizations from the work among women and the trade unions as well as from the Monday demonstrations and from the environmental movement to stand as candidates on our lists. The MLPD/Open List understands its election campaign as a support of the broad unification of the militant opposition against the anti-people gorvermental policy and it stands for the perspective of genuine socialism.

Red Flag: What has turned out of the proposal to form a left electoral alliance?

Stefan Engel: The MLPD immediately took up the proposal of Oskar Lafontaine to form a left electoral alliance and made constructive suggestions on how to realize a broad union on the basis of equal rights. The heads of PDS and WASG ignored this and the negotations were reduced to these two organisations from the very beginnning. An alliance excluding the MLPD as the party of genuine socialism is not really a broad alliance but just a half measure without a revolutionary perspective.
I do not completely exclude such an alliance to be formed at all but I doubt it strongly that it will come about. Not only for reasons of time or electoral laws but also for political reasons. The three regional units of the WASG in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Thuringia and Saxony demand the immediate breaking off of the talks. On the one hand, because no single WASG member from the rankd and file or a party congress has been authorized for holding such talks, and on the other hand because the PDS in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and in Beriln together with the SPD participates in the implementation of the Hartz-IV decisions. Furthermore there is strong opposition within the PDS, too, e.g. to the idea of including the party in a so-called election party, because this would bring about various disadvantages. Party tactical and party egoistical motives are more or less taking priority on both sides, by which the existing expectations of growing number of people searching for a left alternative will be disapointed. The PDS and WASG must accept responsibility for that. Furthermore the heads of WASG and PDS are nurturing and spreading anticommunist reservations among other things against the MLPD. With this they boycott a serious left cooperation that would be a farce without the openness to genuine socialism.
The MLPD is still prepared for cooperation on the basis of struggle and of equal rights against the Agenda 2010. But for understandable reasons we will now have to fight for our admission to the elections at full steam, for which we have to collect about 40,000 support signatures in 16 federal states and fin a number of direct constituencies.
Red Flag: Currently the bourgeois media is full of speculations about the way of the road towards re-elections and the question when and how Schröder asks for a vote of confidence. What does the MLPD think about this whole scenario?

Stefan Engel: The asking for a vote of confidence intended to be carried out on 1 June by the chancellor is a parliamentary farce of the first order. Actually, the Schröder/Fischer government has long since lost the confidence of the masses of the people. Why then asking for a vote of confidence? The governmental coalition is at the and of its tether and the contradictions within are intensifying reaching the point among the Greens of considering the withdrawal of their ministers from the government. The government has reached the end of the line and the best way to hold re-elections is its immediate resignation!
That would at least be an honest step and one could do without nonsensical parliamentary rituals like the “constructive vote of no confidence” etc. By the way, this would save quite a lot of taxes for superfluous sessions and that sort of things. Considering the short time for of the election campaign with the probable election date of 18 September I additionally demand to immediately suspend the obligation to collect ten thousands of support signatures by parties not being represented in the Lower House of Parliament. That has always been an obstruction of the election campaigns that will now have a much stronger impact under the conditions of the early “lightning election campaign”. The undemocratic five percent clause must be abolished, too, with the aid of which the Hartz-IV parties try to be by themselves in the Parliament as well as a whole lot of further obstructions of the elections. At the same time in this parliamentary elections campaign one must put a stop to the financial and media support of fascist parties and organizations. They must not be admitted to the elections!

Red Flag: Angela Merkel is running for the chancellorship as the first ever female candidate in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. In spite of all the rejection of the policy of the CDU - isn’t this also a contribution to realizing the equal rights of women?

Stefan Engel: Being a woman and coming from the new federal states Angela Merkel was long since disputed as a candidate for the chancellorship within the ranks of the arch-conservative CDU/CSU. No she asserted herself in the power struggle within the party. I dare to doubt that this is a constribution on the road towards the liberation of women or overcoming the division between East and West. Mrs. Merkel will more likely follow in Margret Thatcher’s footsteps and her anti-worker, anti-woman and anti-union course in Great Britain in the 80ies. By the way, in the MLPD it is a rule that women take over responsible positions in the party - that is an exception within the CDU/CSU. We have biggest proportion of women compared to all parties in Germany and we on our lists there are competent male and female representatives of the working class and people’s movement from East and West Germany. Our members are proud of both things!

Red Flag: It is an amitious aim of the MLPD to run for the elections all over Germany. How does the MLPD intend to collect the required signatures for hat?

Stefan Engel: Already at the evening of the elections for the federal state parliament in North Rhine-Westphalia and the admission of defeat by Schröder we have called for convening the delegates assemblies to draw up the regional lists. That means we will start to collect signatures already next week and we want to conclude this in a concentrated work until 01 August 2005 as far as possible. The MLPD has units and members in all regions, but its forces spread unevenly in the individual federal states. The CC has elaborated a comprehensive plan to organize mutual support among the individual regional units or cities. Of course, the big regional units like those in Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the developed district units must do the main support work in the smaller districts. We also call upon all non-partisan sympathizers to support as campaigner the admission of the MLPD to the elections. We will build up electoral initiatives everywhere where non-partisan people or members of other parties, initiatives or alliances can cooperate on the basis of equal rights. We assume that the movement of election helpers will be many times bigger than the current membership of MLPD and Rebell.
At the same time the joint election campaign offers the opportunity to learn to now the work of the MLPD better and to possibly decide to become a member. Our goal is to win several hundreds of new members for the party and for the Rebell in the course of the campaign. Up to now we have managed in all election campaigns of the MLPD to strengthen the party sustainably. I assume that the situation today is even more favourable then in all the campaigns before because the people have become more open-minded about us and the MLPD is much better known today and because a close collaboration especially with the industrial workers has developed that especially resulted in the coporate-wide struggles at Siemens, DaimlerChryler or Opel. The MLPD has made a name for itself in the nationwide Monday demonstration movement, in the environmental movement, in the struggle for peace or in the antifascist struggle. People associated with the MLPD and the relations of the MLPD
With the masses are many times bigger as at the last elections in which we participated. An last but not least we also increased our membership and developed our organization considerably compared to former times. In this respect the election campaign is taking place on another, new level. Our intention is not only to participate in the election campaign, but also to intervene conspicuously in the public debate of the election campaign. We have to reckon with the possibility that the bourgeois media and parties are working towards in the first place the so-called crucial election of Schröder or Merkel and report at most about the PDS and the Election Alternative on the left side. However, we represent a comprehensive alternative to the whole range of the old parties regarding the style and content. For this reason our whole election campaign will focus on the election campaign in the streets. We have planned no meeting in rooms during the entire election campaign, at most rallies, regular meetings of the election groups and of course our concluding election parties.
Last but not least we have advanced the donation campaign for 500,000 Euro adopted already before for the party building of the MLPD, in order to finance the election campaign among other things. There is an immense readiness within the party and outside the party to support this offensive for genuine socialism and commit oneself for it. Many members and supporters have already postponed their holidays and offered their services especially using the holiday time to participate intensively in the election campaign. Such an initiative of one’s own is in fact necessary for coping with the comprehensive, courageous program. The party is standing unanimously behind the decision of the Central Committee. Time is ripe for making a big step forward in party building and in strengthening the militant opposition.

Red Flag: Is there not the danger of overtaxing the forces or attaching too much importance to parliamentary activity?

Stefan Engel: The most important political activity of the masses is still the participation in the elections. It would be totally unrealistically and secterian to ignore this political approach of the broad masses of the population, even though elections do not change the world. Parliament is still a central instrument of deception designed to deceive the masses about the dictatorship of the monopolies.
The fact that in the last years there was a trend towards a decline in the participation in the participation in the elections has less to do with a depoliticization, but rather with the political detachment of the masses from the bourgeois parties, from praliamentarism and its institutions. Ou election campaign is necessary to give many the people who are looking for orientation a new perspective and to make it possible for them to play an active part. All this will strengthen the party and the militant opposition. There is no alternative for a serious revolutionary party that wants to play a role on the national level to accepting this challenge.
At the same time we have to be take care that to strictly concentrate our forces and check, transform, postpone or even cancel our plans for the future. We have to completely focus on this work, and if we do so it will be a a feasible task. The party is experienced enough to start the election campaign quickly and will immediately prove its ability of of conducting campaigns. Before all the bourgeois have made up their minds we will already appear in public unmistakably. Without the support of the bourgeois media and their sponsors giving millions the bourgeois parties would hardly be in a position to keep pace with our election campaign in the streets. This is an important message for all those people who are no more ready to support with their votes the old parties with their failed policies. An open political crisis which exists today has always too aspects: those in power can no longer rule in the old way and those being ruled are no longer willing to let themselves be ruled in the old way.
However, it is also a search for a way out and in this search the MLPD must unmistakably play a part with the perspective of genuine socialism. It is out of question that the alternative to the Schröder-Fischer government would only be a Merkel-Westerwelle government or perhaps a left reformist WASG and PDS which are only dreaming of returning to the old social democratic policy before Schröder. This is no more sufficient for the people and for this reason I reckon that there will be good chances that our project of an offensive for genuine socialism will achieve great success.

Red Flag: Thank you very much.

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