September 18, 2005: The National Elections have Deepened the Open Political Crisis

Interview of the „Red Flag” with Stefan Engel, chairman of the MLPD

stefan-engel.jpgRed Flag: What is your first overall assessment of the results of the national elections?

Stefan Engel: For the first time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany the national elections have not brought about a reduction of tension, but rather an intensification of the open political crisis. Never before has such a situation existed in which the formation of a government remains totally open. Every formation of a government presently conceivable would be an considerable compromise with respect to the program of the monopolies as demanded by the BDI (Federal Association of the German Industry). Therefore BDI chief Jorgen Thumann said: „From the standpoint of industry and economy we are bitterly disappointed.” Nicolas Schweickhart, head of the chemical and pharmaceutical group Altana, declared: „The results of the elections are a disaster for Germany industry.” No one actually knows if a new government will be formed at all. Discussions about a reelection are already taking place.

Red Flag: The bad results for the CDU were very surprising for the opinion pollsters in the run-up to the national elections.

Stefan Engel: The masses have vehemently rejected the crisis program of the monopolies that was propagated by the CDU during the elections. The head of the CDU was mistaken and she must pay for her mistake with a humiliating electoral defeat.
It is obvious that the trend toward the left which emerged during the last two years has increased in the national elections. This, of course, has occurred at the expense of the CDU, which basically has only profited from the fact that the masses are no longer accepting the Schroeder/Fischer government. However, just at the moment when it had to present its anti-people program, the masses rejected an expected Merkel government.
The SPD lost 4.5 per cent compared to the national elections in 2002, and this also expresses the fact that people do not want the Schroeder/Fischer government any more. The obvious trend toward the left, left of the SPD, is a clear signal, not only against the Schroeder/Fischer government, but also against a Christian-Democratic/Liberal government. Those in power cannot afford to disregard this vote of the electors - who want neither red/green nor black/yellow in the government, but a correction to the left. Basically, the assessment of the MLPD of a very deep process of the masses detaching themselves from the bourgeois parties, bourgeois parliamentarism and its institutions, has been confirmed. Despite an intensive election campaign, the ruling classes did not succeed in filling the masses with enthusiasm. The masses have unmistakably expressed their view that they do not want any of the established, bourgeois variations of government. This is exactly what shows that the open political crisis has deepened!

Red Flag: The MLPD ran for the elections on a nationwide level. Was this great effort not combined with the risk of overtaxing the forces?

Stefan Engel: There was no alternative to an independent candidature in this form, after a broad left election alliance including the socialist alternative failed. The MLPD launched an impressive election campaign leading to an honorable success.
The nationwide results of the second vote are 4.5 times above the result of the last nationwide participation of the MLPD in a national election in 1994. More than 45,000 votes were cast for the MLPD. These votes were a conscious decision for the MLPD, its program and the socialist alternative. This shows that the MLPD was able to considerably extend its influence in this election campaign, despite massive electoral obstructions and against all adverse conditions.
That is even more apparent in the results of the 36 direct candidates. In all direct constituencies these results are far above those of the second votes. In many cases they are twice as many as those of the second votes. In this personal election the obstacle of the 5 per cent clause becomes relative!
It is conspicuous that this time we got our best election results in East Germany. In 1994 this was totally different. The election results in East Germany are an average of two times to three times as high as in West Germany. This marks a growing shift in the balance of power between the MLPD and the PDS. This especially applies to those federal states in which the masses could already make experiences with the policies of the PDS.
On the other hand, people in West Germany still have relatively high hopes for the Left Party; here we indirectly contributed to many votes for the Left Party. In Gelsenkirchen e.g. the Left Party - which is a relative weak political factor here - got results far above the average in North Rhine-Westphalia with almost 10,000 votes. Its candidate in Gelsenkirchen is works closely and without reservations with the MLPD, e.g. in the Monday demonstrations or in the case of the Hans-Sachs-House scandal. Due to the 5 per cent clause, however, people voted tactically and thought that their vote for the Left Party was the better choice.
In Gelsenkirchen the MLPD could more than double its election results of 1998, but the expectations of the comrades and also my expectations were higher. Many people close to us undoubtedly voted for the Left Party. This resulted, on the one hand, from the pragmatic view that this is the only way that one can exert influence on the composition of the federal parliament, because the MLPD would not take the 5 per cent hurdle. On the other hand, this expresses people’s illusions about the Left Party that it will realize rigorous oppositional policy. The way in which the Left Party achieved its alliance, especially by excluding the forces of genuine socialism, and its unmistakable declaration for the defense of capitalism and of capital will lead to the experience that this will end in a submission to the „practical constraints” of capital and to foul compromises with those in power. The MLPD will continue to work as a consistent anti-capitalist force, as a socialist alternative, that will competently, incorruptibly and resolutely defend the interests of the masses against the ruling monopolies and their parties. I am convinced that at some time in the future people will realize this in the same way.

Red Flag: The various aspects of this election certainly have to be evaluated more closely. But it is apparent that in certain centers in West Germany it was more difficult to attain clearly better election results.

Stefan Engel: In addition to consciousness, there is also a close connection between media manipulation during the elections and the election results. Aside from the customary television and radio censorship, and especially when the local media shut down completely, it is even difficult for us to reach the broad masses of people at all, not even to speak of convincing people to vote for the MLPD. That also is very clear when you look at the example of Gelsenkirchen. We had an excellent election campaign here. Within the past five weeks we conducted 65 information stands, distributed 70,000 election newspapers and 10,000 city newspapers. We conducted a rally with 500 people, an open-air discussion, etc. Despite this, the results of the elections with 624 first votes (for the direct candidates) is relatively modest. That clearly has to do with the fact that the local media almost completely denied our existence. The newspaper “Buer’sche Zeitung” did not report one single word about the MLPD during the entire election campaign. The newspaper “WAZ” also refused to report appropriately about the election campaign of the MLPD. They did not present the candidates at all. Of course, this also has to do with the situation in Gelsenkirchen where the contradictions between the MLPD and the other parties are very intense.
Independent of the election results, the influence of the MLPD has risen many times over within the past years. This is expressed only to a small part in the election results. The policy of relative isolation can last for a certain amount of time. People have to make their own experiences. We should not demand too much of people. Up to now, the Left Party did not have to prove that it really represents the interests of the broad masses of people and the working class. Sooner or later it will come into the conflict that, on the one hand, it has to fulfill the promises to its mass basis and, on the other hand, it has to reconcile its mode of thinking which accepts capitalist “constraints” and, followingly, its role of sustaining capitalism and defending capital. In this situation the masses will see that the Left Party is no alternative in the struggle against the exploitation and oppression in this society. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people have heard about the MLPD in these elections. The socialist alternative has been reawaked and has developed in the minds of many people, even if many people did not decide to elect it yet. In the past weeks we have spoken with hundreds of thousands of people, we collected 45, 000 signatures for the admission to the elections within a very short period of time and achieved our goal to run for the national elections in the entire country. With new methods we conducted a very effective election campaign and integrated thousands of people as active campaign supporters. People will not forget this and, at some point of time and on the basis of their own experience, they will return to these experiences with the MLPD.
At this point I would like to thank all helpers, sympathizers and comrades for the hard work they have done in these elections. It was definitely worth it and was an important investment in the future. Many thousands of people have come into contact with the MLPD for the first time. Several hundred people are presently thinking about organizing themselves in the Party or in Rebell, the party’s youth organization, and participating in organized party work in the future. That has strategic significance. With respect to party building, the election campaign has made excellent achievements. We especially have to regard the intermediate effect of our work and consistently continue accelerated and expanded party building. During the election campaign we extended organized party work to 345 cities and so have started in new areas and regions and at new factories. It is now important to organize many new people in the party, to build up firm structures and, with this extended basis, systematically accompany the masses in the experience they make with this new political situation. Some day, without a doubt, the MLPD will become their party. I am convinced of that.
Red Flag: Thank you!

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