National Sections of the L5I:

Left to stand in Austria's crisis election

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The collapse of Austria's coalition government has accelerated the formation of a new alliance of forces to the left of the Social democratic Party that could lead to the formation of a new workers' party. The first, tentative moves towards a new grouping were taken after the Social democratic Party (SPO) suffered a humiliating electoral defeat in provincial elections in May. While the SPO has still historically grown connections to the working class it is quite clear that the vanguard of workers are turning away from it.

Like Labour in Britain and the Social Democrats in Germany, in government, the SPO has pursued policies indistinguishable from those of the openly bosses' party, in Austria, the People's Party, with which it formed a coalition in January 2007. As a result, it has seen its traditional working-class support drop like a stone. While the SPO has still historically grown connections to the working class it is quite clear that the vanguard of workers are turning away from it. Seizing the initiative, the People's Party leader, Willhelm Molterer, signalled the end of the coalition and demanded new elections that will take place on September 28. At first, many of those involved in the "left project" opposed any idea of rising to the challenge of the political crisis by standing candidates in the election. The Communist Party, for example, vehemently rejected the proposal.

On Saturday July 19, the proposal was put to a meeting of some 100 activists from trade union organisations, immigrant groups, campaign activists as well as from political groups including the Austrian section of the League for the Fifth International, the League of Socialist Revolution. After a detailed debate, an overwhelming majority, 87-7, voted in favour.

The "Left List" must now gather the 2600 signatures that will allow it to field its own candidates in September. At the same time, a thorough internal debate over the political programme of the list will culminate in a programme conference in late August. The LSR tabled the following provisional platform of key demands as a basis for discussion.

It has been widely reported in the national media - along with near hysterical editorial comment, especially because of its demand for the expropriation of the richest families and the major corporations.

The following proposal should serve as the initial basis for political work in the coming weeks. At a later date, after the necessary preparation in working groups, a more complete programme should be discussed and adopted at a conference of the Left List. The Left Alliance is taking part in the election in order to build a political alternative to the Social Democracy, a new left party. Such a party will not be a party of bureaucratic representatives but a party of the workers, the migrants and the youth. Such a party will be a party of action that supports the resistance against social and educational cuts, racism and war and gives them a political perspective. It will be a party that supports the independent organisation of workers, students, and pupils in local committees. Participation in the elections and the achievement of Parliamentary seats is not for us an objective in itself but rather a means of strengthening resistance in the streets, in the factories, in the schools and universities against the attacks of the ruling elite.

We recognise that the following demands cannot be achieved and maintained within the capitalist profit system. Only through massive pressure from the streets, for example through a broad strike movement and demonstrations, can this or that demand be temporarily achieved. Ultimately, only the defeat of capitalism and the building of a socialist society can free us from the horrors of unemployment, poverty and war.

• For the redistribution of wealth from those at the top to those at the bottom! Down with the privileges of the rich and the superrich! As a first step: abolition of tax breaks and introduction of progressive taxation of the capitalists. No to any further privatisation, for the return of public property to state administration under democratic workers' control! Expropriation of the richest 10,000 and of all banks and firms to the benefit of the broad majority of the population!

• Use these financial resources for: a general reduction of the working week to 35 hours with no loss of pay! For the monthly indexation of wages against inflation! Abolition of all fees for education, enlargement of premises and reduction in class numbers to a maximum of 20! Expansion of the public health, pension and welfare system instead of privatisation!

• Down with privileges for politicians! Skilled workers' wages for all holders of political office.

• No to racism and fascism! Repeal of all special laws directed at migrants and asylum seekers! Right of abode for all instead of deportations!

• No to the oppression of women! For equal rights at all levels! For an end to unpaid domestic labour and childcare! Instead: For a massive development of a network of state childcare!

• No to militarism, war and occupation: immediate withdrawal of federal troops from Chad and from Kosovo! End the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine! No war against Iran!

• For a workers' government based on local committees in the towns and factories instead of a government which only acts in the interests of the big corporations!

• Against the Europe of the corporations and generals: for a united workers' Europe!