The Party Congress is the highest organ of the Party. It discusses and rules on basic political and organisational matters.
This year DIE LINKE held its European election congress from 22nd to 24th February in the former provisional capital of Germany, Bonn. The congress approved of the programme "For a solidary Europe of the millions, against a European Union of the millionaires". The programme is dealing with
- good work and good life,
- ecological and just economy,
- climate protection,
- peace in Europe and the world,
- humane migration policy,
- inclusion and equal rights for everyone,
- real democracy,
- education and cultural diversity as well as the
- fight against the right and neoliberals.
The leading motion formulates our criticism about the current agenda of the European Union. At the same time we show that we want to fight for the EU and actively shape it. DIE LINKE stands for the European idea of social justice, humanism, and international solidarity. We endorse a united Europe. Yet, we are convinced that a social, democratic, ecological and peaceful Europe needs a fundamental change of course.
22 candidates were elected to run for European parliament, next to the two top candidates Martin Schirdewan and Özlem Demirel , the current MEPs Cornelia Ernst, Martina Michels and Helmut Scholz, vice party chair Ali Al-Dailami, peace activist and member of the executive board of the European Left Claudia Haydt and youth candidate Malte Fiedler.
Martin is MEP as part of GUE/NGL since 2017. He is part of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs as well as the Special Committee on Financial Crimes, tax avoidance and tax evasion. He is also member of DIE LINKE executive committee. Özlem Demirel is currently DIE LINKE land spokesperson for Northrhine-Westphalia.
List of candidates for European elections 2019
- Martin Schirdewan
- Özlem Demirel
- Cornelia Ernst
- Helmut Scholz
- Martina Michels
- Ali Al-Dailami
- Claudia Haydt
- Malte Fiedler
- Marianne Kolter
- Murat Yilmaz
- Sarah Mirow
- Keith Barlow
- Heide Scharf
- Hannes Nehls
- Kathrin Flach Gomez
- Fotis Matentzoglou
- Anna-Maria Dürr
- David Schwarzendahl
- Susanne Steffgen
- Florian Wilde
- Camila Cirlini
- Eric Bourguignon
70 guests from 46 parties and 34 countries followed the congress. EL top candidate for European elections, Nico Cue, the co-chair of HDP Germany and mayor of Cizre, Leyla Imret, as well as Paulo Luiz Teixera, vice-president of the Workers’ Party, Brasil addressed the audience.
This year DIE LINKE met in Leipzig, Saxony, to elect a new party board and chairs. It approved of a leading motion about future fields of action.
Election of new leadership
Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger have been re-elected for another two-year period. New vice-chairs will be Simone Oldenburg, Martina Renner and Janine Wissler as well as Ali Al-Dailami, Tobias Pflüger and Axel Troost. The number of vice chairs was increased from four to six in order to better represent the different party perspectives. The new general manager will be Jörg Schindler and new treasurer Harald Wolf. The executive committee will altogether consist of 22 women and 22 men, of which just the half may hold a mandate as elected representative.
The leading motion for the Congress focused on the social disparities in the country, the growing inequality between rich and poor. While the social infrastructure, which the majority of the people experiences in their day-to-day life, is dismantled, the amount of wealth of a few people grows exponentially.
While living conditions deteriorate, the new old great coalition of CDU/CSU (Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union) and Social Democrats sticks to the old recipes. Germany's export surplus is not addressed even though it paralyses growth in the other European states. Transport policy caters to the interests of the car industry. Low wages, low corporate taxes, low expenses for infracstructure and society keep the "export model" running while increasing the international competition, putting pressure on the salaries and living conditions in other countries.
The government coalition became more conservative: The Christian Democratic Union and the Bavarian Christian Social Union got their way regarding military, national security or the expansion of public surveillance.
There will be no higher minimum wage, precarious jobs prevail, no poverty-proof pensions, no increase in social benefits (Hartz IV). Instead, an upper limit for the intake of refugees will be installed, against the provisions of the 1951 Refugee Convention. More but less armament, no peaceful and social Europe.
The political system is infused by the spirit of adaption and acceptance of the circumstances: there is no vision, no will for change.
The era Helmut Kohl ended 20 years ago with the new government of Social Demcorats and Greens which was accompanied with the hope of a new beginning, of change. This was all curbed by the so called Agenda 2010, privatisations and profit orientation - the commons, public services, the social structure of society have been weakened and by that democracy. By sacrificing their political aims on the altar of being in government, the longstanding left-green-social democratic majority is now gone. DIE LINKE now has to fight for other majorities in society. To lay the ground for a majority shift in parliaments as well.
Europe, EU, European Left
In Europe the political situation changes fundamentally as well. The EU is in the deepest crisis since its foundation. Less and less people set their faith in it. New movements challenge the traditional party system. Right-wing parties take advantage of the discontent with the prevailing neoliberal politics of nationalism and racism. Social democratic parties are in decline in countries where they resigned from fighting for the interests of the workers and the great majority of society. But with determined left politics this development can be prevented.
We urgently need different, anticapitalist politics. The left in Europe needs to become the opposite pole to neoliberal and right-wing politics.
The motion not only stressed that we have to overcome the dissolution of the left in Europe by fighting for a united European left. Therefore, a critical reflection on the structure and workings of the Party of the European Left (EL) is necessary. The EL should be transformed from an umbrella organisation of left parties in Europe to a real European member party.
To fight the right-wing forces, we may not surrender to their demands or adopt their way of speaking. Racism is no peripheral matter, it is ingrained in the middle of society. DIE LINKE fights for a comprehensive solidarity, for social justice and internationalism from below.
The threefold approach of DIE LINKE regarding flight and borders:
- To fight the reasons of flight by an immediate stop of arms exports and peaceful conflict resolution. The destruction of environment, famine and land grabbing need to be acknowledged as resons of flight. We stand for a just world economic order and for development cooperation which improves the lifes of the people instead of serving the needs of the German economy.
- To end the dying in the mediterranean and at the external European borders. We need safe and legal flight routes, open borders and a humane admission system of refugees. We oppose deportations.
- For a social offensive improving the lifes of all people, including affordable housing, decent education and work. Democracy needs to be strengthened: millions of people in Germany have no right to vote. They are being denied basic rights or access to work. We fight for the same rights for everyone living in Germany.
Many people feel deprived of what is due to them. They are right. But it was always the means of power to pit different groups against each other: precarious workers against the core staff, unemployed against illegalised migrants. We fight against capitalism which puts people in competition towards each other. We don't divide the people in Germans and non-Germans but we see tenants versus real estate speculators. We see people working for a poverty wage versus those that increase their profit at the expense of those workers.
Additionally, in the fields of action it was pronounced that the party will "fight for the equal participation of everyone living here, against racism and discrimination. For a good life for all and an inclusive society. Against the tightening of the right of residence and an extended asylum law. No deportation prisons nor centres. (…) We reject a migration and integration policy which only awards rights to people with the proper passport or when they are deemed "useful" for business. We want a cohesive immigration society instead."
Fields of Action
To fight for a social, peaceful and just order of society the party wants to focus on eight fields of action, among them:
- To unite with those who fight for a 30 hour working week with no loss of pay and increased staff. We fight for clearly higher wages and support the fight of the trade unions for increases in tariffs.
- To fight with those who want to abolish the inhumane Hartz-IV social benefits system. We defend the social guarantess of life. We unite with those that fight against inequality and poverty.
- To fight for public services favouring people instead of profits and strengthening democracy.
- To aim for a socially just, ecological transformation of the economy, effective climate protection, investments in education, upbringing, health, infrastructure and digitalisation.
- Together with all who fight for peace, we oppose arms exports and nuclear weapons. A peaceful foreign policy without nuclear weapons. For a policy of détente with Russia and an end of the sanctions. Against the militarisation of the EU and a peaceful Europe. For a continuation of the nuclear deal with Iran.
- We remain antifascist and antiracist and oppose the Alternative for Germany and other right-wing groups. DIE LINKE opposes all forms of racism, anti-semitism or anti-muslim rascism.
- We fight against the authoritarian turn of the state and defend the expansion of civil rights.
Two motions were approved during the women’s plenary. One demands that the consequences of digitalisation and work 4.0 need to be properly considerd. Many of the technical achievements offer no escape from the assigned role model for women. Special attention needs to be paid to the usage of new technical means so that they will not be abused for an increased rollback of the currently achieved gender equality.
The plenary confirmed furthermore that the achievements of the women's movement may not be undermined. For a peaceful, diverse and solidary society without sexism or racism.
In their speeches, the party chairs as well as parliamentary group leaders and others all mentioned the danger of the growing of right-wing forces. DIE LINKE must unite to fight the new populism. We need determination to shift the middle of society further to the left.
On Sunday a debate was requested regarding the party's stance on migration. According to its programme the party aims for open borders for everyone. In light of the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016 as well as the rise of the right-wing populist AfD questions arose whether a more detailed analysis of the current state as well as an outline of a left migration policy was necessary. Should there be a different approach towards refugees and those who migrate to improve their living conditions? Would an open border approach endager the accomplishments reached for German workers? How realistic is the idea of open borders? Many delegates voiced their opinion but no agreement was found. At the end of the debate the party chairs and parliamentary group leaders agreed to hold a joint meeting on that matter to further debate the implications which will be followed by a conference in autumn.
From 9th to 11th of June DIE LINKE held its congress in Hannover where the electoral programme for upcoming federal elections in September was debated and resolved. The delegates had to vote on more than 300 amendments to the 15 chapters of the draft programme.
More then sixty guests from Europe, Africa, Latin America and all around the world joined us and followed the debates.
The main issue the media thought to get solved by the congress was whether DIE LINKE is planning its election campaign towards being a possible partner for a government coalition or with a clear message for opposition. Prime candidate Dietmar Bartsch addressed this as follows: "And there is a question, which we all - Sarah or Katja or Bernd or me - receive today, again and again: government strategy or opposition strategy? And I can say there is just one clear answer: success strategy, dear comrades, that is our road map."
DIE LINKE will focus on its main issues and political programme. A political change is more than necessary for this country, the European Union, and the world. According to latest polls Social Democrats, Greens and DIE LINKE combined would gain around 40 percent of the votes. But even with better results there would be no automatism of coalition building.
The party chairs as well as the top candidates made it clear that a governmental role will only be an option for DIE LINKE with the right partners, as Sarah Wagenknecht pointed out: "It is also quite clear what we do not stand for. That is the already noticeable diversity of coalition options with which one can pursue a neoliberal policy - which today range from conservative-liberal to great coalition (conservative, social democratic), from Jamaica to a SPD-Green coalition. We have had them all and each of them pursued neoliberal policies.What we don't want and what we won't do is to enrichen this diversity of coalition options with another version which calls itself red-red-green but in the end does the same as before."
Bernd Riexinger explained: "DIE LINKE is standing on two legs. One is social justice, the other one is peace. If one leg is cut we cannot go far with the other one. That's why with us there will be no combat mission of the Bundeswehr abroad; not even as a door opener for a government coalition."
Katja Kipping encouraged the members in her speech: "Dear comrades, especially now when everything is open and nothing seems to be sure anymore, a party is needed that reliably fight. And we will fight with all our energy for better conditions for the middle class, and conditions in which no one, no child in this country, has to live in poverty. In times like these we need a party which can be relied on."
From 28 to 29 May, 2016 DIE LINKE held the first session of its fifth congress in Magdeburg/Saxony-Anhalt. Issues were the election of a new Party Executive Committee and the debate and agreement on three leading motions as well as other motions.
On Friday, the Women's Plenary was held and agreed on several motions to be submitted to the congress. Among them the adopted resolution "No means No!" which promotes a contemporate renewal of the law governing sexual offences.
During the congress the three leading motions, submitted by the PEC, were presented and debated. After a lively debate and several adopted changes, they were agreed on. All resolutions can be found here.
Of course, a new Executive Committee was elected, starting with the speeches of the candidates for party chairs (Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger), four of the vice chairs (Janine Wissler, Caren Lay, Tobias Pflüger and Axel Troost), the party secretary (Matthias Höhn) and the federal treasurer (Thomas Nord). They were all confirmed in office.
Greetings were delivered from the chair of the DIE LINKE land organisation Saxony Anhalt, Birke Bull, and the chair of the land organisation Thuringia, who is at the same time land parliamentary group leader, Susanne Hennig-Wellsow. The party chairs, Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger, as well as the parliamentary group leaders, Sahra Wagenknecht and Dietmar Bartsch all held passionate speeches during this weekend.
Bernd Riexinger wants DIE LINKE to fight for a revolution of justice. He said, the congress took place in times of great societal and political transformations. In the near future we will be confronted with the alternative to either experience an ever more autoritarian capitalism or we are able to overcome neoliberalism and rightwing populism. He promoted to soberly analyse current conditions but to address their change with optimism and determination.
Katja Kipping titled her speech "For a Future Worth Fighting For!" and recapitulated that the changes in society poses new challenges for us. She was sure that we need to maintain a reliable attitude and build an unchanging stronghold against rightwing populism. At the same time we had to urge for changes offensively to fight for social guarantees.
Dietmar Bartsch focused in his speech on the European dimension. We, as leftists, stood for areal policy change to save Europe of the deporters, despots, and blackmailers of the troika. It is necessary to bring about a policy change in the core country of European destruction.
Sahra Wagenknecht insisted that Germany needed a social voice, that the country needed DIE LINKE.
On Sunday, Alican Önlü, MP of HDP, addressed the congress and spoke about the difficult situation in Turkey, especially for the Kurds. DIE LINKE adopted a resolution in solidarity of HDP.