National Sections of the L5I:

The Left Party in Germany

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In Germany, Gerhard Schroeder's attempt to hold on to office by calling early elections was thwarted by the dramatic surge in support for the Left Party, which took 8.7% of the vote and gained 54 members of Parliament. Martin Suchanek of Gruppe Arbeitermacht, the German section of the League for the Fifth International, examines the background to the formation of the Left Party and its prospects as a Grand Coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats is formed.\n\nThe long drawn out negotiations which finally led to the formation of the “Grand Coalition” between the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) were a measure of the setback suffered by German capital in the elections of September the 18th. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who had begun the campaign with an apparently unassailable lead in opinion polls and were the bourgeoisie’s preferred choice, came within an ace of defeat as the electors showed their opposition to their neo-liberal programme. Equally, despite campaigning as if he himself had been in opposition for the last seven years, Gerhard Schroeder’s record of harsh cuts in social services and government support for the employers’ side in wage negotiations ensured that the Social Democrats haemorrhaged working-class support and votes.

Even more significantly, a substantial part of that support, some one million voters, transferred their allegiance to the newly formed Left Party. As yet, this new party is no more than an electoral alliance between the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the Wahlalternative für Soziale Gerechtigkeit (WASG - Electoral Alternative for Social Justice) which was itself only founded earlier in the year but, with 8.7% of the vote and 54 seats in parliament, it is already a significant factor in German politics. Although the PDS is clearly the dominant partner, with 40 Parliamentary seats, it is the impact of the WASG in what was Western Germany that has changed the political landscape. Its formation is indicative of a significant split within the ranks of labour movement officialdom but its electoral success points to widespread disaffection among the rank and file of both the SPD and the trade unions.

Both developments can be traced back to the beginning of Schroeder’s second term in government. In the spring of 2003, only a few months after the trade unions had helped him and his party to a narrow electoral victory, Schroeder laid out his “Agenda 2010” programme of economic “reform".

With its commitment to “flexibilisation” of the labour market, the weakening and eventual repeal of employment protection and nationally agreed wage contracts, cuts in unemployment benefit and social security payments, this was a more concerted attack on workers’ rights and living standards than anything even conceived of by Helmut Kohl of the CDU in his 16 years of government.

The half-hearted protests organised by the trade unions in April and May fell far short of the robust response that was needed to rebuff Schroeder’s attack. Discontent within the unions was strengthened when the IG Metall (the engineering union) strike for the 35 hour week in the East was sabotaged by the works’ council chiefs in the major car plants of the West, principally DaimlerChrysler, Opel and Porsche, because of its effects on production in their plants. Attempts by the right-wing in IG Metall to consolidate this defeat of the left by capturing the leadership of the union, which were ultimately unsuccessful, also played a role in galvanising militant currents.

Towards the end of 2003, there was an increase in the political and social movement of protest against government policy which culminated in an extremely militant demonstration of some 100,000 people on November 1st.

This was organised against the opposition of the trade union leaders and was particularly important because of the presence of tens of thousands of industrial workers from “West” Germany. On the demonstration itself, there were many anticapitalist banners and the demand for a general strike was raised widely.

The size of the demonstration and the scale of opposition to their own previous policy, forced the union leaders to change their tactics, if not their strategy. Leading figures from IG Metall and the public services union, ver.di, made radical speeches at meetings of the German delegation to the Social Forum in Paris and at the “Action Conference” in Frankfurt in January 2004. Although its representatives had been cooperating with the government over the implementation of the Hartz laws, which gave effect to government policy, the DGB (the German equivalent of the TUC) now placed itself at the head of the protests against them.

On April 3, 700,000 took to the streets in Berlin, Cologne and Stuttgart. However, this proved to be the end, not the beginning. Having brought the movement back under its control, the DGB now demobilised it by limiting campaigning to the collection of signatures for a “workers’ petition"! It was out of this situation that two currents, which were critical not only of the government’s policy but also of the inadequate opposition to it, began to emerge, which were later to form the WASG. One of these had its base among the officials of IG Metall in Schweinfurt, Fürth, Nürnberg and Munich, in Bavaria, most of whom were not only leaders of the local trade union apparatus but also long-term members of the SPD. The other current developed out of a layer of left-bourgeois, Keynesian social scientists around the previously Euro-Communist newspaper “Socialism” and trade union officials from ver.di such as Ralph Krämer, an official of the executive of the union and adviser to its chief, Franz Bsirske. From the beginning, therefore, although the WASG reflected pressure from the rank and file of the unions, it was always dominated by one wing of the labour bureaucracy.

The likes of Krämer and the IG Metall officials took a leading role not only as individuals but more particularly as “stalking horses” for the leaderships of their unions, while the DGB itself, and more rightwing unions such as the chemical workers’ union, were against any “splits in the labour movement". At its formal founding, in December 2004, the WASG adopted a “policy document” which identified the problem facing Germany as a lack of effective domestic demand caused by the adoption of neoliberal policies. Their solution lay in a return to Keynesian “demand management” which would not only benefit the workers and socially disadvantaged but also the small employers and the self-employed. The new party’s hostility to class politics was made clear by its orientation towards winning, “Social Democrats, Greens, trade unions, churches, socially oriented conservatives and those employers who are not oriented towards the world market".

Despite this aspiration, however, its political and programmatic proximity to the trade unions can be seen from the WASG’s adoption of all the social and wage demands of ver.di’s annual conference although, in part, in milder form. The opposition to anything that might be accused of “extremism” can be illustrated by an episode from the election campaign. The PDS wanted to include in the electoral platform the demand for a minimum wage of €1400. Oskar Lafontaine opposed this “utopia” and insisted on a figure of €1250, after previously consulting the “wages expert” and head of ver.di, Franz Bsirske. Even more instructive is the failure of the WASG to play any active role in the mobilisation against redundancies in DaimlerChrysler and the Opel plant in Bochum. On the contrary, a group of workers there, who had founded a WASG factory branch, were expelled by the district executive of the WASG because the local IG Metall executive and the majority of the Works Council, who had sold out the strike, blamed them for rejecting a “constructive dialogue", in other words, for criticising the sell out.

The other side of the coin of this instinctive siding with the bureaucracy and hostility to independent rank-and-file activity is the failure to give any kind of leadership to potential mass mobilisations. For example, even in the middle of the electoral campaign, when the Left Party was attracting media attention and surpassing 20% in opinion polls, it offered neither leadership nor unifying perspective to the Monday demonstrations against the neoliberal policies of both main parties.

When the WASG was founded, there were, objectively, no fundamental obstacles to collaboration and, indeed, fusion, with the PDS. Although it was the successor party to the old ruling SED of the German Democratic Republic, the PDS had succeeded in reinventing itself as a social democratic party comparable to the SPD before its Bad Godesberg conference of 1959. Subjectively, however, there were several impediments. On the one hand, the party’s continued commitment to “socialism” in its programme was a permanent reminder of its Stalinist past, which the WASG’s leaders calculated would be an electoral liability in the former “West” Germany. On the other hand, its participation in state governments in Berlin and Mecklenburg, which had pursued neoliberal policies themselves, pointed to its unreliability as an ally against such policies on the national stage. At the same time, it was already apparent that the WASG itself would find it very difficult to attract support and members in the East. From the point of view of the PDS, achieving a credible presence in the “West” was seen as vital to the completion of the transformation of the party into a genuinely “national” party and revitalising the party membership. With 60,000 members, it was many times the size of the WASG, but 40,000 of those members were already past retirement age and rejuvenation was clearly a pre-requisite not only for success but survival. During the winter and spring of 2005, the question of relations with the PDS was, in any case, not a priority for the WASG as it turned its attention to internal matters and preparation for its founding conference in May.

At that conference, an overwhelming majority voted for the “Founding Programme", which was the only document submitted for their consideration. In the same month, however, the SPD suffered an electoral defeat of epic proportions in its former stronghold of North Rhine Westphalia. One effect of this was to deprive the SPD-Green party coalition of its majority in the Bundesrat, the second house of parliament and, recognising that this had effectively broken the back of his government, Schroeder took the calculated risk of calling early elections. It was this that provided the impetus for closer collaboration between the WASG and the PDS. Because of the provisions of the electoral law, the WASG was not able to stand its own candidates and, despite its name, faced the prospect of being merely a bystander at a time when the SPD appeared certain to suffer massive defections from its traditional voters.

As an already established party, the PDS was entitled to stand candidates and now seized the opportunity to make a breakthrough in the West by offering to open its lists to the WASG. That a party to the left of the SPD would strike a sympathetic chord was immediately apparent from opinion polls which registered more than 20% support when the new initiative was first launched. Although such figures were never likely to be maintained, widespread support for the idea of a new left party was confirmed by recruitment to both the WASG, which grew by 50% to some 10,000, and the PDS which recruited 3000 new members.

In the elections themselves, the Left Party’s overall result, 8.7%, included strong support among the unemployed, between 22 and 25%, blue-collar workers, between 11 and 12%, and a similar figure for trade union members. In addition to one million former SPD voters, the party also gained the votes of 430,000 who had either spoiled their ballots or abstained from voting in the previous general election.

At the same time, there were also poor results which should not be overlooked. The party did relatively badly amongst youth and women and also in the South German states of Bavaria and Baden Wurttemberg, home to a fast growing proportion of the core sector of the working class where it won less than 4%, despite the fact that many leaders of the WASG are leading figures in the labour movement of the region. Similarly, although the national result is qualitatively better than anything won by a party to the left of the SPD in post war Germany, the immediate beneficiaries of this breakthrough are the middle ranking trade union functionaries of the WASG and the equally bureaucratic leaders of the PDS.

The past records of both leaderships make it clear that they will do everything in their power to ensure that the new party remains within the reformist traditions of the labour bureaucracy and becomes an instrument of the “left” wing of the social democratic trade union apparatus. However, the Founding Programme of the WASG was correct in saying that the various “movements” against different aspects of the Social Democratic and Green Party coalition attacks were insufficient and that what was needed was a new political party.

All the same, many activists in those movements remain highly sceptical of the intentions and future prospects of the Left Party. The PDS, after all, is already represented in all six state parliaments and two state governments in the “East", including Berlin, where the party pushed through a wage cut of 10% for local government workers, a bigger cut than has been achieved by any Christian Democrat led local government. In addition, it has authorised the deportation of refugees. The WASG also welcomed into its ranks Oscar Lafontaine who has called in his columns in the Bild newspaper for the establishment of refugee camps outside the borders of the European Union in order to stop “uncontrolled” immigration and has even accepted the need for the police to use torture in “emergency situations".

Understandable, even justified, as any scepticism towards the leaders of the Left Party might be, however, it is not in itself enough to provide an answer to the question of how revolutionaries should respond to current developments. Certainly, to write off the whole Left Party formation because of its leadership would be to make the classic sectarian mistake of attributing to those attracted to the party the same motivations and prejudices as its leaders. Naturally, it would have been preferable if the party had developed out of successful mobilisations, huge strikes and occupations and with a leadership which was under substantially greater pressure from a self-conscious and far bigger mass of independently organised workers.

However, we cannot get around the development as it has taken place. It was inevitable that the SPD in government, committed to the kind of programme demanded by German capital, would come into conflict with his own supporters and members but not that they would immediately turn towards revolutionary politics. Given the lack of any revolutionary pole of attraction, it is not surprising that many have turned towards an alternative leadership that stands for a return to the policies of their own tradition. Whether the Grand Coalition will be sufficiently stable and united to go for the immediate implementation of the kind of programme demanded by the German employers is yet to be seen. What is, however, already evident is the intention of the employers themselves to press ahead with their own agenda. Since the elections, Daimler, Siemens, VW and AEG have all threatened mass redundancies and demanded the lengthening of working hours, the cutting of wages and increases in productivity. With the SPD in the government, there are bound to be further splits within both the party and the trade unions and this can be expected to lead to continued recruitment of disaffected activists and militants into the Left Party.

As the activists in Opel found, their expectations and instincts will not be shared by the existing leadership. Quite apart from the internal jockeying for position by different factions within the PDS and the WASG, the scene is, therefore, set for a major political conflict over the nature and programme of the Left Party as it moves from its present status of an alliance towards a single, unified party. Although the reformist leaders are in a seemingly strong position, the demands and dynamics of the class struggle will place increasing strains on their attempts to limit the party to a left social democratic position and to maintain their caste allegiances with the rest of the bureaucratic machinery of the SPD and the trade unions.

Nonetheless, as the whole history of the working class movement, in Germany as elsewhere, shows, even against a background of heightened class struggle the development of revolutionary consciousness, that is to say, a recognition of the need to overthrow capitalism and the state that defends it, is neither spontaneous nor guaranteed. It is against the yardstick of the need to bring into such debates a revolutionary programme linking the existing and developing class struggle to the overthrow of capitalism and state that the interventions of the “Far Left” groups into the Left Party have to be judged.

Perhaps the worst intervention, certainly the least effective, is no intervention at all and this is the position of the Revolutionaer Sozialistische Bund (RSB, Revolutionary Socialist Group) the superficially more “left” of the Fourth International’s two (!) German sections. It derives its position from an essentially economistic schema in which it expects that the new political movement, from which a new party could arise, will itself be a product of the development of the economic class struggle in the workplaces. This is not only a theoretical revision of Marxism but is blatantly contradicted by the actual course of events including, not least, the formation of the WASG itself. In reality, this position is an avoidance of the need to wage a political fight against the established leaders of the Left Party in order to win increasing numbers of those joining the party to the revolutionary programme. Such a position only ensures that the existing leaders of the Left Party are unchallenged and enabled to build the kind of reformist party that they want, one which would constitute a major obstacle to the building of the revolutionary party that the working class needs.

Of the groups that have decided to participate in the building of the Left Party, most are active within the WASG both because of their own geographical base in the “West” and because it has a more open and dynamic internal life. Those organisations whose own roots lie in Stalinism, whether they have themselves become social democratic, like the Deutsche Kommunistische Partei (DKP, German Communist Party) or, like the Demokratik Isci Dernekleri Federasyonu (DIDF, Federation of Democratic Workers’ Clubs, based in the Turkish community) they retained their original character, naturally have few programmatic differences with the existing leaderships and have not, in that sense, made any independent intervention.

Three centrist groups, the internationale sozialistische linke (isl, the “other” section of the FI), the Sozialistische Alternative (SAV, German section of the Committee for a Workers’ Interntional, in Britain the Socialist Party) and Linksruck (German section of the International Socialist Tendency, in Britain, the SWP) have decided, like the Gruppe Arbeitermacht (GAM) to participate actively within the WASG. However, unlike the GAM, which tabled a revolutionary draft programme as an alternative to the proposal from the party leadership, all of these groups were, to one degree or another, in favour of adopting the leadership’s draft, which, as we have seen, commits the party to a Keynesian social democratic programme. Linksruck ,for example, gave positive support to it, “Linksruck commits itself in the context of the formation of a Left Party to such a consensus-oriented reform programme” . Their rationalisation for this hopeless tailism was made clear by their argument against the GAM draft, namely, that a socialist, not to mention a communist, programme would limit the “breadth of the party".

The isl, went even further in distancing itself from revolutionary politics by condemning the presentation of an alternative programme as “sectarianism". At the party conference, one of their speakers, Thiess Gleiss, explained that the question of the character of the programme was not so important because capital would feel itself under attack in any case, as if the criterion for a party programme were the likely response of the ruling class! These two groups were also signatories to a declaration which appealed to the “responsibility” of the WASG and PDS leaderships for the “future of the German left” at the time of the proposal for a joint list for the elections, “the joint project demands from those participating in it a preparedness to make compromises and to recognise divergence, a culture of mutually reliable solidarity. Mutual denunciation is not acceptable. The difficulties caused by the enormous pressure of time and the demands of the electoral laws can only be resolved through solidarity and respect for different political identities.”

In plain language this is a voluntary agreement not to criticise the leadership’s policies or, for example, the PDS’s participation in government or Lafontaine’s reactionary newspaper columns. Not surprisingly, Linksruck’s newspaper for the election campaign contained not a word of criticism of the leadership or its policies.

The third centrist group, SAV, did, initially, take a more critical approach, even publishing their own draft left-reformist programme, but then they got cold feet and withdrew it when the leadership published their own proposals. In the course of the programme debate, they then tabled some amendments which would supposedly have altered the “character” of the 28-page programme. A central one of these amendments demanded that the WASG “reject any participation in a government which pursues social cuts".

This formulation did indeed cause some concern to the leadership who, characteristically, wanted to have their hands as free as possible for any future parliamentary manoeuvring. However, as a political position it shows the defining error of the SAV’s conception of politics.

The formulation used leaves out the question of the class character of a government. This is an issue of fundamental principle since a bourgeois government is a government of capital whatever the policies it might pursue at any particular point in time. For socialists, there cannot be any question of participating in, or giving political support to, any bourgeois government. The reason for the SAV’s formulation is that they want to leave open the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism by the election of a government “on a socialist programme".

Moreover, the SAV endorsed the programme adopted in retrospect. “We support the reform demands posed in the general programme. But we are convinced that they cannot be implemented permanently within the framework of a capitalist market economy.” (“Wir unterstützen die Reformforderungen, die das Grundsatzprogramm aufstellt. Wir sind allerdings der berzeugung, dass diese Forderungen im Rahmen der kapitalistischen Marktwirtschaft nicht dauerhaft umgesetzt werden können.)

Here the SAV plays a usual trick of opportunists, ie. does not deal with the programme of the Wahlalternative or any other party as system, as a totality, but separates the “good” side, ie. the reformist demands and the bad “side”, ie. its overall strategy.

The same thinking lies behind their differential characterisation of the WASG as a qualitatively better form of reformism as compared to the PDS.

Here the SAV cocedes, that the PDS programme, could be seen as “more left wing”, since it “refers to socialism”. But “it is more important, in which direct in parties move and on which forces work inside them:” (Doch wichtiger ist, in welche Richtung sich Parteien bewegen und welche Kräfte sich in ihnen regen.) As we have shown above, however, the dominante forces inside the WASG - ie. the West German labour bureaucracy - are by no means moving in a different direction than the PDS leadership.

Despite their differing emphases, the three centrist groups have arrived at the same conclusion; in the here and now, the Left Party should be built in accordance with the political priorities of its existing leadership. This inevitably leads them to unprincipled positions both in the internal debates within the party and externally. For example, where Linksruck and SAV members stood as candidates on the joint list in the election, they did not argue for their own politics or produce their own election material but simply parroted the reformist Keynesian programme of the leadership. Methodologically, the error that all three make is the commonest error of centrists, that is, that the working class can become revolutionary without the conscious and direct intervention of revolutionaries. At most, they see their role as helping to create the circumstances in which workers will be revolutionised. Thus, for example, the SAV argues, “the existence of a workers’ party would enormously improve the conditions of struggle for the working class and offer the activists a forum in which they can discuss and evaluate their experiences".

The problem with this formulation is not that a workers’ party would not create such circumstances but that discussion and evaluation will not spontaneously generate revolutionary conclusions. Without the intervention of revolutionaries, any number of different conclusions could be drawn from either victories or defeats. In the new circumstances created by the formation of the Grand Coalition, there will be three interrelated issues which will determine the development of the Left Party and around which revolutionaries have to organise. The first of these is how to ensure that the party becomes a real fighting organisation that leads and coordinates the fight against the government and the employers and not a passive support organisation for the leaders of the PDS and WASG. The second is how to relate to the government question, most particularly at the state level, and the third is the programme that should be adopted by a unified party. Not surprisingly, the leaders of the WASG and the PDS believe that the inclusion of the SPD in government, in itself, will act as a brake on the CDU’s planned offensive.

This, however, is a view shared by some sections of the left like Angela Klein from the isl, “the forced march toward wild west capitalism has been stopped for the moment: in the short-term, nothing will come of the repeal of employment protection laws and industry-wide collective bargaining, personal charges for health services or increases in VAT. What the employers call a “reform standstill” is, for the trade unions and the social movements, a necessary breathing space in which to reorganise themselves and win new forces outside Parliament.”

Given the attacks already unleashed at Daimler, VW, Siemens and AEG, this may prove to be a dangerously complacent attitude and any “breathing space” short lived. The government programme, which formed the basis for the formation of the coalition, already shows the way the wind is blowing. It includes a “compromise” on the question of VAT; the SPD campaigned on the basis of no increase from 16%, the CDU promised an increase to 18% - and they have now agreed on 19%! In any event, what is crucial is that revolutionaries argue in all the available milieux, including the workplace, the social movements, the rank and file of the unions and in the WASG and PDS themselves, for militant defence of rights and conditions, the coordination of struggles across different sectors and the perspective of politicising all struggles into a fight against the government’s whole strategy.

In the aftermath of the inconclusive election, the question of the Left Party’s attitude to the formation of a government was posed. Individual members of the Parliamentary fraction of the party played with the idea of voting for Schroeder as Chancellor or for a Red-Green minority government if it would “change its policies". Lafontaine and Gysi (leader of the PDS) both made statements that they would “of course” support a Red-Green coalition if it turned to “social-democratic politics". What is clear from these statements is that the formation of a coalition with an openly bourgeois party, the Greens, is considered a possible option, dependent only on what policies it adopted. This is no surprise from the leaders, Lafontaine, after all, was a member of such a coalition. More surprising is that Linksruck took an essentially similar position. Writing in Socialist Worker, Stefan Bornost, Editor of the Linksruck paper, explained how they would argue their position. “For us it’s a question of politics. If you (SPD - Ed) scrap the cuts packages, get the troops out of Afghanistan and increase taxes on the rich, then we will be prepared to give our votes in parliament to support the formation of a minority government of the SPD and Greens led by you.”

With the formation of the Grand Coalition, these issues have disappeared from the national stage. However, they still exist at the level of state governments in Berlin and Mecklenburg, where the PDS is already in office, and in the coming year a series of state elections will pose the possibility of joining or “tolerating” other SPD-led governments. Berlin is likely to be the first important test case. In the capital, the WASG has some 800 members and it was formed around opposition to the cuts imposed by the city government in which the PDS has seats. Quite correctly, many members of the WASG, probably a majority in Berlin, are demanding that unity with the PDS in a new party should be conditional on the PDS breaking from the governmental policy in Berlin. Within the city, a platform has been formed inside the WASG, the “Berlin Appeal", to campaign for this break and its members have made clear that they will stand against the PDS if it continues with its present policy. Linksruck opposes this policy, arguing that it constitutes an “ultimatum” to the PDS which will push the rank and file towards the leadership.

Instead, Linksruck is proposing a two-year period to “examine” the experience of participation in state governments with “an open mind". In response to a declaration by many WASG members and sympathisers in Berlin that the Berlin PDS should break from the policy of the Senate and thereby, in effect, resign from the Berlin provincial government, Linksruck declared that such a demand was obstructive and should be rejected. According to Werner Halbauer, of the Linksruck national leadership, such a demand would only “discredit the WASG in Berlin as an opponent of constructive discussion” and this would make it easier for the PDS leadership “to avoid any political analysis of its participation in the Berlin government". What a proposition from a group that calls itself revolutionary! How could a new workers’ party expect to recruit from the 40,000 workers on “1 euro jobs” in Berlin and those who have suffered a 10% wage cut at the hands of the PDS-SPD coalition by suggesting that it has “an open mind” on such an issue and needs a couple of years to think about it?

A revolutionary approach has to be completely different. It has to start from the needs posed by the class struggle. German capital needs a major offensive against the working class and, whatever the immediate timescale, the Grand Coalition will launch it. This will increase the tensions and contradictions within both the SPD and the unions and, as we have already seen, many militants and activists will be attracted to the Left Party. Revolutionaries, therefore, must intervene actively in this process, campaigning for the party to turn itself outwards to recruit militant workers and unemployed, the left in the trade unions, the social movements and the youth to play leading roles in the formation of the Left Party.

This is the only way to make it an instrument for mobilisation and struggle that is more than the sum of the PDS and WASG. For this we need open conferences to discuss the political basis of the unified party. All those who are committed to fighting against Agenda 2010, war and racism should be invited to attend. Such conferences should be open to all the organised Left. In addition, the social movements, the trade union left, youth organisations, local organisations of the WASG and PDS need to discuss and agree upon a plan for mobilisation against the attacks of the new government and the capitalists. These must be taken into the WASG and PDS with the demand that the leaders support the mobilisations and the necessary measures such as political strikes, international strikes and mobilisations, a rank-and-file movement in the trade unions, action councils and social forums. Both within the Left Party and in the broader movement, we should raise the demand that the PDS break from the neoliberal government policy in Berlin and in Schwerin. Both the PDS and the WASG must be committed to clear opposition to collaboration or toleration of neoliberal “red-green” coalitions at the provincial and local levels. This question cannot and must not be the subject of years of “open-ended” discussion.

We have also to fight to commit the new party to support the building of a rank and file movement in the unions in order to prevent bureaucratic misleadership and obstruction of militant struggles against both the employers and the state. In this way, a new workers’ party can win to itself the existing workplace vanguard and at the same time counter the possibility that these layers could be driven towards an apolitical left syndicalism out of frustration with another reformist party. We are for a fundamental and open discussion on programme within the Left Party as it is formed. A really open discussion would mean that, alongside the reformist and Keynesian positions, anticapitalist and revolutionary communist positions could also be heard and every current in the new party should have the right to organise openly. The new party will only really become a party of the movements, a workers’ party, if it becomes a party of resistance and struggle.