Merkel defeated in Berlin

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THE economic collapse of the eurozone continues to drive a huge political crisis for bourgeois political parties across Europe as splits on how to deal with the state bankruptcy of Greece threaten to bring down governments.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was on the receiving end of a major humiliation on Sunday when her government’s coalition partners, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), were wiped out in regional elections in the capital, Berlin.

This is an astounding sixth time that Merkel’s coalition government, comprising her Christian Democrats (CDU) and the FDP, has suffered a major electoral defeat this year.

The result, which saw the FDP vote slump to 2% of the vote and the CDU only obtaining 23%, is a crushing blow for Merkel’s coalition and threatens its very existence, coming as it does just two weeks before a crucial vote in parliament on the Greek bail-out.

Not that the main opposition party, the reformist Social Democrats (SPD), has anything to cheer about.

They retained control of Berlin but their vote of 29%   was also down on previous years, a reflection of the fact that the SPD has no discernable differences with the right-wing CDU over the issue of the bail-out.

This was emphasised by the leader of the SPD, Sigmar Gabrial, who indicated after the vote that, although the SPD at present would not enter into a formal coalition with Merkel, they would be prepared to support her as a minority government should the coalition collapse, in order to save the euro.

What is ripping the bourgeois parties apart is the split within the capitalist class over the collapsed economies of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

On one side stands Merkel and the SPD, who in two weeks will go before the German parliament to seek authority to increase the lending capacity of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), from 250 billion euros to 440 billion.

Along with the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel is the main exponent of turning the EFSF and the EU central bank into the single bank for the whole of Europe.

This would be complemented by the drive to create a single central European government, thus establishing a political and financial dictatorship by the German and French bourgeoisie over Europe.

On the other side of the split stand those representatives of the capitalist class who can see no way out for the bankrupt economies, certainly not through Germany and France spending billions buying up worthless state bonds.

Throwing money at these failing countries and trying to prop up their economies, this group believes, will only bankrupt the whole of Europe and lead to the collapse of the single currency.

This section is calling for Greece, Portugal, Ireland and, even the much larger economy of Spain, to be thrown out of the eurozone and left to sink on their own.

The FDP has recently been in the forefront of arguing for this position.

Whatever the splits within the ruling class, one thing unites them above all else – that the working class will pay for the crisis, not the capitalist class and certainly not the bankers.

Either the working class will pay through the imposition of ‘austerity measures’, that means mass unemployment and an end to all welfare and social spending imposed by diktat by German and French financiers and politicians, or they will pay through state bankruptcy that will equally drive them into the ground.

The response from the working class must be to capitalise on the weakness of the ruling class and the undefeated strength of the working class by driving forward to the European socialist revolution.