Germany: WASG Berlin will stand independently

Membership ballot confirms decision of party conference

On February 25, two thirds of the elected WASG (Electoral Alternative – Work and Social Justice) delegates voted in favour of standing independently in this year´s Berlin regional state elections.

This decision was taken after an intense period of democratic debate within elected bodies and local party branches. The decison was taken against the will of the majority of WASG’s national committee as well as against the leadership of the national and local LeftParty.PDS. They would have liked to see a joint standing and a subsequent merger of the two parties. The Berlin WASG is opposed to a joint candidacy with the LeftParty.PDS in Berlin not because they are opposed to left unity and a strong and democratic left party on a national scale but because of the Left Party.PDS´s involvement in privatisations, social cuts and attacks on working class living standards.

Historic decision

Following the party conference, the 860 strong Berlin WASG membership was asked to confirm this decison in a membership ballot. A total of 591 (68.7 %) participated in the postal ballot. Mainly due to the very complicated voting procedure, 64 votes were not counted as valid. Of the remaining 527 votes, 272 voted in favour of standing independently, 245 voted against and 10 abstained. This is a close but good and clear result. This is especially true since those in favour of a No vote had tried their utmost to influence the ballot´s outcome. Oskar Lafontaine, joint leader of the parliamentary group had sent a letter to every single WASG member asking them to vote No in the ballot. Also, Oskar Lafontaine and memebrs of the WASG national committee had organised a press conference arguing that a yes vote would not only mean splitting the left but would also damage the process of building a new left in Germany.

The stakes are high in Berlin and attempts to isolate the Berlin WASG on the part of the leadership of the national party will increase. It is now important to organise solidarity from across the country for the democratic decision taken by the WASG membership in Berlin.

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March 2006