For the first time since the 1950s there is a nationwide political force to the left of the SPD.
The Left Party/PDS will continue fighting the dismantling of the German welfare state, the redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, the sending of German troops into military action abroad.
As PDS leader Gregor Gysi stated at a press conference after the vote, the party will support neither the neo-liberal politics of Schröder, nor of Merkel.
In the new Bundestag there will finally be a strong left opposition.
Our 8.7 percent is a very good result — above all because the other parties and the media have witch-hunted us. The SPD and CDU are in crisis, stuck on 35 percent.
There were exceptional results for the Left Party in the West in three areas — Saarland (Oskar Lafontaine’s home state) with 18.5 percent, Bremen with 8.6 percent and Hamburg with 6.3 percent.
Overall neither the CDU nor the SPD has a majority of votes or seats. Our good result has hindered the black-yellow parties (the Tories and the Liberals). Since May the CDU and FDP collectively have fallen from 55 percent in the opinion polls to 45 percent at the elections.
The Schröder government was punished. He brought the election forward because he wanted a confirmation of his “reform politics”. But people have rejected this. Agenda 2010 and Hartz IV have cost the SPD victory.
Yet the SPD’s result is better than their opinion poll ratings for the last few months. This is because during the election campaign the SPD presented itself as the defender of social justice.
Since 1998 the SPD has lost 160,000 members, and in this campaign the gap between the SPD and the trade unions was bigger than ever. The union leadership could not openly support the SPD because many of their members had already switched to the Left Party.
And the fascists remain weak. A big merit of the left alliance is that despite mass unemployment, poverty and the weakness of the big parties, very few voters went to the fascists.
People are looking for a left alternative, not a right wing one. The most important task of the left alliance after the election is to build up a visible movement on the streets and in the workplaces.
An important starting point for this can be the strategy and action conference on 19-20 November in Frankfurt, where trade unionists and activists will discuss the social movements and the next step in the fight to defend the welfare state.
Seats in the Bundestag
Christian Democrats/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU): 225
Social Democrats (SPD): 222
Free Democrats (FDP): 61
Left Party: 54