domingo, 5 de agosto de 2018

Germany's left and right vie to turn politics upside down / A Faustian moment for the German Left / #GermanyDecides: Meet the Candidate Sahra Wagenknecht, Left Party | DW E...

Já conhecem a Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)… Mas já ouviram falar de Sahra Wagenknecht ?
Nova formação política explícitamente Nacionalista aposta no Proletariado …
“Diagonais” cruzando do Nacional Social ao Nacional Socialismo …

Germany's left and right vie to turn politics upside down

Opponents adopt each other’s policy angles as left launches movement to counter AfD

Philip Oltermann in Berlin

Sun 22 Jul 2018 11.33 BST Last modified on Sun 22 Jul 2018 16.13 BST

Die Link’s chairwoman, Sahra Wagenknecht, will spearhead the as yet unnamed populist movement. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA
Leftwing politicians are singing the praises of border control while rightwingers call for expanding the welfare state. Old political certainties could be turned upside down in Germany this summer as the far ends of the country’s political spectrum both moot a “national social” turn.

A new leftwing movement soft-launching in Germany in August aims to part ways with what one of its founders calls the “moralising” tendency of the left, in an attempt to win back working-class voters from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).

The as-yet-unnamed new populist movement, partly inspired by the British Labour party’s Momentum and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise, and spearheaded by the leftwing party Die Linke’s chairwoman, Sahra Wagenknecht, will include former and current members of the Social Democratic and Green parties, and prominent academics such as the sociologist Wolfgang Streeck.

According to one of the movement’s founders, its defining feature is likely to be its adherence to “the materialist left, not the moral left”.

“When people live in social conditions that make them feel secure, they are usually prepared to act generously and tolerantly,” said Bernd Stegemann, an author and dramatist at the prestigious Berliner Ensemble theatre who is working with Wagenknecht on the movement’s programme.

“When they live in increasingly precarious and atomised conditions, however, they are also likely to react to challenges in a tougher and colder manner. Brecht summarised it wonderfully. Grub comes first, then ethics.”

As well as rallying around traditional leftwing causes such as disarmament and a reversal of Germany’s Hartz IV labour market reforms, an unsigned position paper circulating around Berlin political circles in recent weeks suggests the movement will also advocate law and order policies and a tougher stance on immigration. “Open borders in Europe means more competition for badly paid jobs,” says the paper, which is headed “fairland”.

Stegemann, who is not a member of any political party, said he was frustrated with middle-class leftwing intellectuals lecturing working-class Germans for their sceptical reaction to Angela Merkel’s decisions at the height of the refugee crisis.

“We are dealing with an absurd situation when the winners of neoliberalism tell the losers that they must be more humane. And it galls me when politicians think it is enough to pass down moral judgments. No, politics must act.”

The launch of the new movement, which will start as an online forum where supporters can upload and visualise policy proposals, comes as the AfD is trying to win over disappointed Die Linke supporters in the former states of East Germany. It is doing so by occupying positions on social welfare usually associated with the left.

With three crucial state elections in Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia coming up next year, east German branches of the AfD have started to part ways from the party’s economically liberal roots. A new pension plan unveiled this month by the Thuringian AfD MP Jürgen Pohl proposes stabilising pension levels at around 50% of earned income, outdoing proposals made by Die Linke, the Social Democrats or the Greens.

Non-Germans are largely excluded from the AfD’s newly discovered welfare initiatives. A proposed “state resident’s pension” of €190 a month could only be claimed by German citizens who have worked in the country for more than 35 years.

Björn Höcke, the far-right politician who has emerged as the leading architect of AfD’s “national social” identity in the east, has argued that “the German social question of the 21st century” is not primarily the redistribution of national wealth from top to bottom, or old to young, but “inside to outside”.

For both Die Linke and the AfD, the new “national social” formations – as a recent article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung dubbed the new political initiative – face opposition from within their own parties. There are fears among the former’s strategists and activists that the new movement’s launch proper in early September could backfire and destroy Die Linke’s already low chances of entering parliament at Bavarian state elections in October.

Wagenknecht is a widely recognised politician whose rhetorical gifts have made hera regular presence on Germany’s political talkshows, but critics inside her own party say her popularity is an illusion. Unlike Labour’s Momentum, her new movement has so far mainly attracted older white men. In terms of policy, she runs counter to the successful socially liberal, pro-refugee Berlin branch of Die Linke, which is leading polls for state elections in 2021.

Inside Alternative für Deutschland, calls for higher pensions and rallying cries against labour market deregulation clash with the official positions of the party’s upper ranks, where its leader, Alice Weidel, advocates Swiss-style pension funds as the model for Germany to follow, and its deputy leader, Beatrix von Storch, rails against high taxes .

New research, however, suggests that political realignments are not only taking place in party headquarters but across the country at large. Sociologist Klaus Dörre’s  of a new “workers’ movement on the right”, based on more than 70 interviews across Germany, reveals rapidly increasing support for the AfD’s “exclusive solidarity” among functionaries and members at Germany’s unions.

Manual workers who used to vote for the far right or far left in protestare increasingly solidifying their identification with the AfD, Dörre said. “They used to be a fluctuating protest movement, but now they follow the party line.”

One of the anonymous case studies quoted in the study, a previously “exemplary” union activist who had fought for solidarity with Czech temporary workers, expressed views that crossed over from “national social” to national socialism: “In my view, the refugees have to go away ... I wouldn’t have a problem if they opened up Buchenwald again, put barbed wire around it, them inside, us outside.”

A Faustian moment for the German Left
Die Linke leader pushes to ‘Corbynize’ Social Democrats.

By           JANOSCH DELCKER          1/22/16, 5:30 AM CET Updated 1/26/16, 6:21 AM CET

BERLIN — When Sahra Wagenknecht graduated from an East German high school in 1988, she could recite Goethe’s play Faust by heart, and it was Thomas Mann’s novel based on the same legend that later convinced her to go into politics.

The parliamentary leader of Die Linke (The Left) — the far-left party that, by electoral accident, leads the opposition to Angela Merkel in the Bundestag — seems to have struck a Faustian bargain of her own, riding a populist wave of discontent with mainstream political parties into territory where Europe’s far-left and far-right meet.

Wagenknecht is trying to turn a party of pariahs into potential kingmakers and fend off rival offerings from the right by co-opting their stances on hot-button issues.

“I went into politics because I want to change existing conditions,” she said in an interview. “Of course, I could do that better as part of the government than in the opposition, where I only have very limited influence.”

Limited indeed: The ‘grand coalition’ of Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) dominates the 630-seat lower house with 503 seats. The Left and the Greens have a combined 127.

As parliamentary leader of the largest opposition party, Wagenknecht answers the chancellor first in plenary debates. Merkel makes a show of ignoring her, texting and chatting with her ministers so loudly that the front bench got a reprimand in October.

“If the SPD put a personality like Jeremy Corbyn at its head … things could get serious for Merkel” — Sahra Wagenknecht.

At the next election in 2017, however, the Left could in theory be instrumental in a bid to topple Merkel after the SPD, which has previously governed with the Greens, widened its coalition options by dropping a ban on federal coalitions with the Left.

One obstacle is that the SPD under Sigmar Gabriel and Wagenknecht’s party are so incompatible on the major geopolitical issues: While the Social Democrats are passionate about Europe and firm supporters of the transatlantic alliance, the Left opposes membership of NATO and Wagenknecht advocates an end to the euro.

The obvious answer from Wagenknecht’s point of view is not to make her own party more moderate — but to urge the SPD to move in their direction by taking its ideological cue from today’s British Labour Party.

“The politics of today’s SPD, and particularly the politics of Mr. Gabriel, follow a line that is not compatible with ours,” she said. “If the SPD put a personality like [current Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn at its head … things could get serious for Merkel.”

The spirit of Lafontaine
Some Berlin insiders say that when Wagenknecht, who is 46, launches on one of her rants against Gabriel (who is German vice chancellor and economy minister) and the SPD, they hear her husband Oskar Lafontaine talking.

Lafontaine spent four decades in the SPD, where he was chairman, finance minister and a longtime powerbroker. He fell out with then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and left in 2005. Lafontaine joined a party that merged with the remnants of the East German communists in 2007 to form the Left, ensuring him the lasting enmity of his erstwhile SPD comrades. The SPD still blames Lafontaine for undermining the party, which has since been stuck at around 25 percent support, humiliatingly low for the oldest party in the Bundestag.

Wagenknecht and Lafontaine are “an integrated whole,” said her predecessor as the Left’s parliamentary leader, Gregor Gysi.

Wagenknecht was a radical long before meeting Oskar, however.

Born in 1969 in the East German city of Jena, she was raised by her single mother in East Berlin. In 1990, a year after German reunification that she and others perceived as annexation by the West, she began to study philosophy and literature at university.

Her ambitions for a career in academia changed upon reading Doctor Faustus. Mann’s 1947 novel tells the story of Adrian Leverkühn, a composer who had an artistic breakthrough after striking a deal with the devil — and his death in isolation and madness.

“Initially, I just wanted to work in the humanities, in academia,” Wagenknecht said, “But then I felt that if I did that type of work in isolation — detached from what’s happening in the world around me — I could end up like Leverkühn.”

Critics accuse her of ideological isolation and striking her own Faustian deal with extremism. As one of the leaders of the ultra-left Communist Platform, the young Wagenknecht defended the GDR as “the most peaceful and most philanthropic polity that the Germans created in all of their previous history” and was dubbed “Stalin’s daughter.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to a speech by Sahra Wagenknecht
German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to a speech by Sahra Wagenknecht | Getty

“I’m constantly blamed for having had a different position in my early 20s,” she told POLITICO. “Yes, it’s true, I advocated certain views back then — but today, I don’t hold many of those views anymore. People change over time.”

Elected to the Bundestag in 1998 and the European Parliament in 2004, she has been co-leader of the Left in the Bundestag since October, eclipsing the more moderate Dietmar Bartsch with her striking looks and strident tone.

Comparing the Paris terrorist attacks and the anti-ISIL coalition’s air raids in Syria, she told reporters last month: “One of them is terror by individuals, the other one terror by states.”

Who’s afraid of Sahra?
More recently, she has angered her own parliamentary group. Her remarks on the refugee crisis and the sexual assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve by gangs of men that included asylum-seekers echoed the rhetoric of right-wing groups like Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party and Pegida who oppose Merkel’s open-doors policy on migration.

“He who abuses his right to hospitality, has forfeited this right to hospitality,” she said, adding: “This is the clear position of the Left.”

It wasn’t the party policy, in fact, and Left MPs protested. Wagenknecht vaguely acknowledged her unfortunate choice of words about “hospitality” for people fleeing war, but reiterated that “the large majority of the population thinks that one can expect of those, who are being offered protection, that they respect the rules of our country.”

The AfD’s deputy leader Alexander Gauland congratulated Wagenknecht for her remarks on Cologne, saying she had “nicely put the situation in a nutshell.”

Her words are as likely to resonate with Left voters in eastern Germany nostalgic for the certainties of life before reunification as well as welfare beneficiaries in the West afraid that the refugees will compete with them for state resources. According to one poll, one in four Left supporters would consider joining a march of the anti-Islam movement Pegida if it took place in their neighborhood.

The AfD, which narrowly missed the 5 percent threshold to enter the Bundestag at the last election in 2013, now scores 10 percent or higher in opinion polls, putting it slightly ahead of Wagenknecht’s party. Its growing support makes it a bigger concern for Merkel than the Left.

“She has no reason to be afraid,” Wagenknecht said of the chancellor, adding that only the SPD could pose a threat to Merkel. “We [the Left] are not large enough. At this moment in time, why should she be afraid of us? She might have to suffer through our speeches in the parliament, but there’s not much else we can do to be a threat.”

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