Anti-fascists have called dozens of protests across Germany as the far right ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ (AfD) win almost 13% of the national vote and 93 seats. This is the first time since 1953 that fascists have been in German parliament.
Angela Merkel’s ‘Christian Democratic Union’ party and her allies in the ‘Christian Social Union’ lost 65 seats and tens of thousands of voters despite the parliament expanding to 709 representatives. One million Merkel voters defected to the far right.
The Social Democrats (SPD) had their worst election for decades, losing over 5% of their voters. Like the Labour Party here in Ireland, they have been in a coalition government with the right. The fascists were able to win 400,000 SPD voters.
The radical left Die Linke party gained voters from the SPD, mainly in the West, but lost significant support to the fascists in parts of East Germany. Their final overall result was a small rise on the last election. They gained votes from young professionals but lost some of the poorer areas.
The AfD were able to win voters who hadn’t voted before, attracting over 1.2 million people who didn’t vote in the 2013 election.
The entire election campaign was dominated by racist rhetoric from all the establishment parties and the mainstream media. Merkel came in strong on the Burka ban at the start of the election. This emboldened the fascists.
Meanwhile the radical left have been demonised since the G20 protests. But even worse was the capitulation of some on the left to racist arguments. Even some Die Linke representatives spoke of the ‘genuine concerns’ of Germans.
This created debate inside Die Linke as anti racists in Die Linke have been key to building united front protests against the AfD across Germany and have been key to building the protests following the election result.
The German working class, especially in the East, have been hit hard by falling real wages. One quarter of the workforce now earn a low-income wage. The number of workers in more precarious work has tripled in the last few years. Inequality has grown as the German rich increase their wealth.
It is in this context that the far right exploit dissatisfaction and misdirect that dissatisfaction against refugees and migrant workers. Ironically many of the leaders of the AfD are from wealthy business backgrounds.
The AfD will be able to use their seats in parliament to build on the momentum they have gained. They will now have 700 party workers on the back of their election breakthrough.
The lessons for the left and workers everywhere are clear.
Firstly- we cannot allow racism to fester. If you do not challenge racism it will be exploited to turn people away from progressive solutions to the problems working class people face.
Secondly- we cannot treat fascist organisations as ‘legitimate’ parties. They want to destroy the left and attack refugees. They have to be shut down in order to defend free speech.
Thirdly- the left cannot try to run the current system, we have to be the best fighters against austerity, we have to fight to change it.
Elements of Die Linke have participated in local governments that have implemented cuts. If the left implements cuts the far right can then paint the left as being part of the system.
Lastly- the world is polarising to the left and right as the ‘extreme centre’ neo-liberal parties lose support. The race is on to see who gets to shape the future of humanity. Either we focus anger over falling living standards towards progressive solutions, we give the people hope or the far right will give them despair and lead us down a dark and terrible path.
The choice is there for us to take. We ask that you join us in building a movement of hope here in Ireland.
Join us. Text JOIN to 0872839964.