Merkel defeated in Thuringia

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LEFT parties in Germany have agreed a historic coalition deal which will see the first left state government in Thuringia, East Germany, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 25th anniversary of which took place last week.

Under the agreement, Bodo Ramelow of Die Linke party (the successor to the East German Communist Party) is to become premier of Thuringia state next month.

Ramelow said on Wednesday that Die Linke had reached a deal with the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, to form a ‘red-red-green’ coalition.

The agreement will last for five years, and its supporters say that it will form a blueprint for the establishment of a similar coalition at the level of the national German government.

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, are now expected to become the opposition in Thuringia.

There are high expectations on the left that the change in the eastern German state is the beginning of a major political change throughout Germany and not just in the former GDR.

On December 5, Thuringian lawmakers will vote for the Prime Minister of the state government, which could see Bodo Ramelow take office.

German President Joachim Gauck is frantically citing the roots of Die Linke in the former Stalinist East Germany without getting much of a response.

Die Linke has one more seat than the other parties, and has agreed to take the same number of ministries as the SPD – three each – even though the center-left party won only half as many votes in the regional elections. The Greens, who won half as many votes as the SPD, are to take two ministries.

The Red-Red-Green coalition says it will introduce reforms that include free childcare for a year and pouring more money into education and municipalities.

Even though Die Linke has traditionally fared well in East Germany and has already regularly participated in regional government there, the prospect of one of their members being appointed regional state premier for the first time has fuelled heated debate across Germany.

On November 9, when the country was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, around 4,000 people rallied in Erfurt, the regional state capital of Thuringia, to protest against the party.

‘Out with the Stasi’ they chanted, referring to the former German Democratic Republic’s secret police.

Ramelow responded: ‘I’m not a representative of the GDR and my party isn’t a club of nostalgists who want to resurrect East Germany.’

‘It’s difficult to give power to a party which hasn’t cleared up its past,’ said the CDU’s regional parliamentary leader Mike Mohring, claiming that former Stasi collaborators are among Die Linke’s leadership.

The Die Linke victory is a barometer of how the current crisis of world capitalism, and the twin crisis of the EU, with its stagnating German economy, is pushing the working class and the middle class of the EU, including Germany, to the left.

In fact, very many East Germans opposed the liquidation of the GDR which, despite being run in the most bureaucratic fashion by the Stalinist bureaucracy, offered zero unemployment, minimal rents, with free health and child care available to all, and free state education up to and including university level.

The crisis of world capitalism, and its results in the EU – a banking system neck deep in debt, while Germany stagnates amidst a sea of EU mass youth unemployment and mass austerity programmes – has set the alarm bells ringing for the German workers.

Stamped on their collective memory is how the massive inflation and collapse of the Mark in the 1920s, preceeded the slump and the mass unemployment in the 1930s, which spurred on the rise of German Nazism, and then the disaster of the Second World War and the Russian front.

German workers are determined that there will be no repeat of this scenario. This is why they are moving to the left. In the period ahead, the German workers will be in the vanguard of the European workers battling to replace the EU of the bankers and capitalists with the Socialist United States of Europe.