Germany

After Italy, Greece, Spain and other countries in Europe, now Germany is being hit by a wave of student protest. The same policies everywhere, cuts in spending and privatisation of the education system, are provoking the same reaction. The youth is mobilising massively, indicating that an even bigger movement of the working class is being prepared.

It had been planned as a central meeting of leading proto-fascists, right-wing populists and neo-nazis. A grand "European Anti-Islamic Congress" was scheduled to be held Saturday 20th September in the huge German city of Cologne. The organisers didn’t count on the fact that no one would transport them or go anywhere near them. Instead tens of thousands of anti-fascist demonstrators turned up to protest.

Over the weekend of May 2-4 a conference was held in Berlin on the theme of "1968 - We shall win the last battle", organised by the youth and students of the German Left Party (Die Linke). There were 1600 people taking part in the conference and the Marxists of Der Funke intervened in the debates, organised a stall with literature, provided international speakers from Spain and Pakistan and one of the Der Funke supporters, and member of the national council of the youth wing of the party, made one of the concluding speeches.

Recent local elections in Germany have seen the Left Party (Die Linke) emerge as a force to the left of the SPD. At the same time we are seeing a growing level of trade union militancy. This reflects the growing malaise within German society as a layer of workers and youth look for an alternative.

Earlier this month the German railways were brought to a halt by a paralysing strike. There is a real mood of militancy among German rail workers, but at the top in the trade unions deals are going ahead that envisage the privatisation of the railway network with a generalised worsening of working conditions, lowering of safety levels and so on.

The heads of government of the G8 are meeting in Heiligendamm in Germany. But they are being heavily protected from the harsh social realities that have emerged in Germany. Thousands of protestors are also there. Significantly, there are several important strikes that have affected life in Germany. This may also explain “police tactics” that seemed designed to provoke violent conflict, rather than play it down.

In mid-June the WASG and the Linkspartei.PDS will come together and form a new left-wing party, Die Linke. Hans-Gerd-Öfinger looks at the significance of this development and the perspectives for this new political formation.

Hands off Venezuela in Germany played a decisively role in some successful public meetings with Che Guevara's daughter, Aleida Guevara, last week. 450 workers, youth and Latin American immigrants attended the Frankfurt meeting on Saturday, 25 March, and 250 were packed into the hall in Wiesbaden two days earlier.

The Grand Coalition of the SPD and Christian Democrats has now been in office for some months. Its programme is “more of the same”, further privatisations and cuts in social spending. Although this may hold for a while, beneath the surface a new mood is developing. The signs are already there in some significant strikes such as that of the Gate Gourmet workers.

By mid-November Germany will almost certainly be governed by a “Grand Coalition” involving Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. The programme of this government is a foregone conclusion, the same old recipe of privatisations and cuts. For now the bosses are happy with this, but this government is preparing the ground for a greater radicalisation on the left similar to what we saw back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.