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What does the Left Party want for Europe?

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Die Linke's parliamentary leader Gregor Gysi speaking at a party conference on Sunday. Photo: DPA
17:29 CEST+02:00
The far-left party Die Linke is now the third biggest group in the German parliament, but what do their politicians want for Europe? The Local takes a look at the party's manifesto for the EU Parliament elections on May 25th.

Die Linke overtook rivals the Greens in September's elections to become the country's third biggest parliamentary group – and has since made waves in foreign policy by its outspoken condemnation of US spying and conciliatory attitude to Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Their charismatic parliamentary leader Gregor Gysi added to his party's critical stance towards the EU system in an interview with Die Zeit newspaper. "It is pursuing a neo-liberal economic policy and stands for the opposite of socialism," he said.

Future of the EU

Die Linke's European policy could be summarized as aiming to enhance the political and economic powers of the EU whilst reforming EU institutions to make them more democratic - and give them the legitimacy critics claim they lack.

They want to make the European Parliament equal in lawmaking power to the European Commission and European Council, giving it full powers both to nominate and elect the European Commission president.

Die Linke also propose full-scale Europe-wide referendums, including same-day referendums for all EU treaty amendments, and claim as a priority giving member states' national parliaments more say in EU decisions.

Economy

As Germany's largest democratic socialist party, Die Linke propose to nationalize Europe's large banks while placing other banking services under "public and democratic control".

Hedge funds, "shadow banks" and investment banks should be progressively phased out and eliminated, they contend.

They also support the introduction of "Eurobonds" guaranteed by all EU member states, which is widely-opposed by Germany’s main political parties.

Die Linke also plan to withdraw licences from banks that facilitate tax evasion, oppose all privatization of public services and reject the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA.

And along with introducing a "Robin Hood" tax levying a one-time duty on all fortunes above €1 million, the Left Party would allow EU institutions to apply sanctions to members with long-term trade surpluses, in order to finance development in poorer member states.

Climate and Environment

Die Linke wants to set out new, more ambitious plans at the EU level for expanding renewable energy sources, reducing CO2 emissions and cutting energy usage.

Under their plans, by around 2050, 100 percent of Europe's energy should come from renewables, CO2 emissions should be down by 95 percent and energy usage by 60 percent on 2000 levels.

Their manifesto also commits to fully eliminating nuclear power, banning all fracking and promoting regional agriculture and food production, while claiming to be against GM crops and excessive food imports.

Mobility and Immigration

Die Linke's policy on immigration stands out from major parties by appearing dramatically in favour of making Europe more refugee-friendly.

They claim to promote the "unconditional right to stay and proper accommodation, social protection and equal rights for all refugees".

And according to their manifesto, they also support refugees' free choice of which country they wish to seek asylum in, as well as demanding the dissolution of EU border agency Frontex.

Foreign Policy

Die Linke's foreign policy is controversial mainly for its strongly anti-military elements.

The party opposes all overseas military operations by the EU, argues military spending should be progressively cut with the eventual target of zero, and promotes total nuclear disarmament across Europe.

Die Linke are also strongly against the arms trade, advocating an EU-wide ban on all arms dealing as well as the axing of all EU drone warfare programs.

And the party has diverted from the foreign policy norm by proposing the dissolution of NATO, hoping to replace it with a "collective security system" with Russia as a member.

SEE ALSO: What does the SPD want for Europe?

SEE ALSO: What does the CDU want for Europe?

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