Thousands join Germany’s Left attempt to take on the AfD

Over 110,000 registered with the organisation ‘Aufstehen’ at its launch in Berlin today, reports Nick Jones. The launch drew together the parliamentary leader of the German Left Party (Die Linke), Sahra Wagenknecht, alongside former president of the Green Party, Ludger Volmer and the SPD Mayor of Flensburg Simone Lange and other activists. The name can be translated as both ‘Rise up!’ or ‘Revolt!’ and that is exactly what the cross-party movement aims to do in its founding statement. They seek to gather together those in parties and trade unions alongside those who are not in any party, who are fed up with pro-business EU, where profit triumphs over public need, violence triumphs over international law and money takes precedent over democracy and environmental protection.

People work yet live in poverty and struggle to find or pay for accommodation. Those on benefits struggle to make ends meet and rely on Food Banks or ‘Tafel’.

Their aims are:

  1. A new peace policy that is independent of the USA – one that promotes diplomacy, disarmament and avoids murderous wars.
  2. Job security – end zero hours style contracts, renew the welfare state and ensure people receive decent pensions and benefits. Take advantage of the digital age and ensure that it does not create stressed out overworked employees and lead to unemployment for others.
  3. Stop privatisation and take things back into public ownership. Public good is more important than profit. Well-equipped, well-staffed and modern hospitals. Affordable accommodation. Develop a democratic digital platform that is not based on profit and selling off our privacy like Google or Facebook.
  4. Eco-friendly and sustainable farming, protecting wildlife – clean air and clean water.
  5. Excellent education for all – not based on social class. Make sure early years places are available and employ more teachers.
  6. Save our democracy – end rule by big business and banks. Expose lobbying and ban business donations to political parties.
  7. Everyday safety – more police, social workers and those employed in the justice system. Subject businesses to criminal law.
  8. For a European Germany in a united Europe made up of sovereign states. A Europe that protects its citizens and does not promote free market globalisation at the expense of democracy. Europe needs democratic legitimacy.
  9. Help those in need. Ensure the right to asylum, end the arms trade and unfair trading practices. Help those fleeing war and climate disasters. Take measures to tackle poverty and end war in their home countries.

The organisation is just starting out and hopes to give an alternative to those who reject the ‘Grand Coalition’ of the social democratic SPD and conservative CDU-CSU. They seek to fight the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) by tackling issues that leave so many disenfranchised and feeling left behind.

Although Sahra Wagenknecht is from Die Linke, the party does not have a formal position of supporting ‘Aufstehen’. Some members have been critical of the move and see it as duplication at best and may even lay the foundations for the formation of another left party and future split. Others in the leadership of the party wish the group success and believe members are free to join ’Aufstehen’ and equally free to criticise the organisation. ‘Aufstehen’ has been criticised by some in the SPD including Kevin Kühnert of the Young Socialists who helped mobilise mass opposition to the Grand Coalition from within the party. He sees the group as not really offering anything different to the mainstream left organisations. How the group develops in the next days and weeks and the way they will tackle the growth of the far right remains to be seen. It is hoped that the movement unites thousands beyond pushing back racism and seeks to tackle social issues that divide and drive people into the hands of the right.

More information on Aufstehen here


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