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Bisky suggests Left and SPD should make up, possibly even fuse

DDP/The Local · 5 Dec 2009, 11:53

Published: 05 Dec 2009 11:53 GMT+01:00

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Bisky said it was time to talk openly of what he called ‘common roots’ of the two parties, and to take up the proposition made recently by Brandenburg’s SPD state premier Matthias Platzeck for reconciliation.

“This is perhaps a project for the next generation,” Bisky told Der Spiegel magazine.

But he said such a move would require his party to, “Admit historical mistakes, such as the subjugation of social democracy in the GDR.”

Platzeck “deserves a positive answer,” said Bisky, and said that reconciliation of the SPD and Left would be, “In the interests of future generations.”

Platzeck leads a state government formed of his own SPD and the Left, which has unsettled those in the SPD concerned about scaring voters who feel the Left is still contaminated by the past of many of its members.

The Left is a coalition of trade unionists, disaffected SPD supporters, and a significant section from the PDS, the successor party to the SED, which had ruled East Germany, many of whom had unsavoury links to the secret police, the Stasi.

The Brandenburg parliament was the scene of two resignations last week when its vice president Gerlinde Stobrawa and regional deputy Renate Adolph left their jobs after being accused of not coming clean over their Stasi pasts.

The last GDR foreign minister and co-founder of the SPD in the east, Markus Meckel said he was not surprised by the scandal, saying, “It was always known that there was a pile of such people in the former PDS – not just in Brandenburg, but all over the east.”

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In an interview with the magazine Super Illu Meckel said the party had never seriously dealt with the crimes of the Stasi but had simply offered such people a new political home.

He said Platzeck’s idea of building a coalition between the SPD and the Left as some kind of reconciliation project was a mistake.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:52 December 11, 2009 by langohio
I think this is a natural development -- but only if the Left seriously enforces its long-standing policy that former "unofficial co-workers" with the Ministry for State Security come clean about their past.

This is a complication for ex-Communist parties throughout Eastern Europe--except that in countries like Poland and Hungary the former Communists themselves morphed into Social Democratic parties, but still have to deal with the legacy of politicians who were involved in one way or another with the state security apparatus.

Apart from this vexing question, the Left in eastern Germany is a good fit for partnership with the SPD because it is comprised primarily of "realos" who cooperate easily with other parties on the local and state level. Thus, tactical alliances between the conservative CDU and the Left have existed for years in local government throughout the east, while the two SPD-Left coalitions in the state governments (formerly in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and currently in Berlin) have functioned as normally as any other multi-party coalition. The same will be true in Brandenburg once the Landtag moves on from the Stasi controversy--as eventually it must.

But it's in the west--where the Left is comprised by disaffected ex-SPD members, train unionists and an assortment of left-wing sectarians--where re-union with the SPD would be more problematic. The very point for the Left's existence in the western states is as an alternative to the SPD. In the east, it's more like a second SPD (which has reduced the SPD to third-party status in three of the six eastern German states).

So one possible scenario is a split in the Left itself--with the majority of the more radical western membership (a minority of the party as a whole) remaining separate and drifting into sectarian obscurity, while the pragmatic eastern membership unites with the SPD after suitable background checks. As Bisky said, this may be a project for the "next generation"--i.e., the rising generation of Left members who reached maturity after 1989 and therefore weren't tainted by association with the MfS, and of the corresponding SPD generation whose life experience was not defined by political repression in the GDR.
15:31 December 22, 2009 by Hibernicus
I think splits should be avoided. A broad Left democratic party should be willing to accomodate various views. A continuous political education programme is a vital necessity for any party wanting major social and basic economic changes. The public will not vote for utopias they don't understand. Where ignorance prevails, the capitalist parties can get away with the most outrageous rubbish in their politics of "image", "narrative" and utter delusion like the so-called "War on Terror". The Left has a great opportunity now as the capitalist parties are in complete denial of their responsibility for the worst economic failure since 1929. Realistic critique of the failures of capitalism will find public support now, but, the Left politicians must break the cosy consensus with conservatism on so-called "social-Market" programmes. This is a contradictory term with no possibility of being realised in practice as the wasted years of SPD in Germany, Labour in Britain and PSF in France have proven.
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