- Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative
party_name = Arbeit & soziale Gerechtigkeit – Die Wahlalternative
party_wikicolourid = WASG
Klaus Ernst, Thomas Händel, Christine Buchholz, Axel Troost
January 22, 2005
international = none
european = none
europarl = none
colours = Orange
headquarters = Königswarter Straße 16
website = [http://archiv.w-asg.de/ www.w-asg.de]
Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative ( _de. Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit – Die Wahlalternative, WASG) was a German political party founded in 2005 by activists disenchanted with the Social Democratic-Green government. On 16 June 2007 it merged with
The Left Party.PDSto form the new party The Left ("Die Linke") party. At the time of its merger with The Left Party.PDS, party membership stood at about 11,600 members.
The party ran for the first time in the 2005 state election of
North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state and a stronghold of the SPD, with pastor Jürgen Kluteas its front-runner. The party campaigned against what it considered "the neoliberalconsensus" displayed by the governing centre-left political parties and the more conservative opposition alike. Some of its main issues were opposition to cuts in social benefits and to the favourable taxation of the wealthy. In the first few months of existence, it received a large amount of news coverage, and had its first national convention from 6 May until 8 May 2005. Oskar Lafontaine, a former major figure of the SPD's left, joined the new party officially on 18 June 2005, and became their North Rhine-Westphaliafrontrunner for the general electionon September 18, after advocating also the electoral alliance with the PDS which the WASG and PDS leaderships in principle agreed to on 10 June 2005.
The Left Party.PDSmerged on 16 June 2007 into a unified party which is called simply The Left ("Die Linke").
The draft programmatic orientation is strongly influenced by the
memorandums of the Working group for Alternative Economical Politicswhich counts one of the party's leading figures, economist Axel Troost, among its members. The programme pleads for a policy that strengthens domestic demand and centres around social justice; part of the programme is the return to a more progressive taxation. First and foremost, the tax breaks for large corporations and high incomes introduced by the SPD-Green coalition federal government starting from 1999 would have to be reverted and the federal tax on assets, which had ceased in 1997, reintroduced. The draft programme would have to be discussed until the spring 2005.
The party emerged from the association "Wahlalternative Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit e. V." which had been founded on 3 July 2004. The association itself had started as the merger of the groups Initiative Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit (mainly by Bavarian union representatives) and the Wahlalternative ("Electoral Alternative", founded by people in Northern and Western Germany). Both groups had been founded in reaction to the government politics as laid down in the
Agenda 2010programme of the governing "Red-Green" coalition, which they consider as too neoliberal. The first meeting of the Wahlalternative took place on 5 March 2004 in the Berlinheadquarters of the German Federation of Trade Unions(DGB).
The association had 4,056 members on 11 September 2004, the number rising to over 6,000 members shortly before
Christmas2004. The first organisation in one of the states was founded on 17 July 2004 in the Saarland; the first convention in North Rhine-Westphaliatook place on 17 October 2004, and it was decided to take part in the 2005 regional elections in that state in spite of the party's unclear financial situation.
The association WAsG e. V., the party's "birthplace", continues to exist along with the party; its future purpose has still not been determined. It may be transferred into a political foundation similar to the ones kept by other German political parties.
The nascent party drew attention in the mass media because the foundation of a new leftist party might lead to a schism of the SPD. Forerunners to such a development were the secession of the "Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands" (
USPD) during World War I, the foundation of the leftist Greens (although these were not founded by disaffected SPD members) in the late 1970s, and the Demokratische Sozialisten(DS) founded by Karl-Heinz Hansenund Manfred Coppikin the early 1980s.
The federal assembly in
Nurembergof the association WAsG e. V. (20 and 21 November 2004) decided to found a party, something that had never been ruled out as a possible outcome by members of the provisional leadership. After the strike vote among members in December 2004, the party was officially founded on 22 January 2005 in Göttingen. The party's name came into being as Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit – Die Wahlalternative (the abbreviation ASG later had to be changed to WASG, due to a lawsuit). The party will take part in the German general election in 2005; it hopes to attract disaffected voters and nonvoters alike by offering them a real electoral alternative.
There is a lot of controversy about the new party's political orientation among its members. While some would like to establish it as a purely leftist party of socialist inclination, many others, especially union representatives and ex-SPD-members, aim to provide a home also for social conservatives and religious people who believe in a strong welfare state. The argument escalated in February 2005 (shortly after the party's foundation) but could be soothed through a compromise that was satisfactory for everyone. The compromise calls for a strict accord with welfare state orientation without excluding more socialist-minded members from the party.
Regional election in North Rhine-Westphalia
The party decided to take part in the regional election in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, on 22 May 2005. Eligibility was ensured in all regional counties, and pastor
Jürgen Kluteof Herne was the leading candidate of a 40-person-ticket.
In this regional election the WASG reached 2.2% of the votes cast (approximately 182,000 votes).
Lawsuit against the abbreviation ASG
According to a decision made by the District Court of Düsseldorf, the party was no longer allowed to officially use its abbreviation "ASG". The party had been sued by the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sozialpädagogik und Gesellschaftsbild (ASG)". As a result the abbreviation WASG" has been unofficially adopted – with an equally unofficial slight reordering of the words in its name to fit the new abbreviation.
Electoral alliance with the PDS
After the crushing defeat of his SPD in the regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Federal Chancellor Schröder had declared the intention of going for a general election as soon as possible, avoiding the completion of the regular term – which was to run until September 2006 – by the device of failing a vote, which took place on 1 July 2005. However, there are major constitutional issues which are to be settled by the German
Constitutional Court. Because of the German constitution, which incorporated lessons learned from the failed Weimar Republic, the German parliament cannot dissolve itself or be dissolved by a political representative ahead of schedule, except under very rare circumstances.
While the WASG had hoped to gain a large enough membership and to raise enough money for an election campaign by the originally scheduled election date (some time in September 2006), it was now faced with the difficulty of an early election one year ahead of schedule – occurring on the date of 18 September 2005. Polls predicted an election result of at most 3% for the new party, well below the electoral threshold of 5%. In that situation, the idea of an electoral coalition with the PDS, jointly led by
Oskar Lafontaineand Gregor Gysi, was put forward by Oskar Lafontaine.
On 10 June 2005, the leaderships of WASG and the PDS agreed to form an electoral alliance for the then-upcoming federal elections in September 2005. According to the agreement, the parties will not compete against one another in any district and will have a joint manifesto. This was intended to benefit both parties, because the WASG is based primarily in western Germany, while the PDS, which is the successor to the East German Socialist Unity Party ("SED"), is strongest in the East. Oskar Lafontaine, the former chairman of the incumbent Social Democratic Party, was the WASG's lead candidate.
After a multitude of initial problems due to the somewhat restrictive German electoral law, the PDS re-christened itself as "Die Linkspartei." (The Left Party) and will appear on the ballot as either "Die Linkspartei.PDS" – in the Eastern states – or "Die Linkspartei." – in the Western states – in line with the WASG's wishes. WASG candidates appear on those electoral lists.
As of 5 July 2005, the coalition was on 30% in the polls in the East (level with the CDU there), and 11% nationally. [ [http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,363792,00.html] ] In the Federal Election the Left Party gained 8.7 % of the votes and 54 Members of "
Bundestag" (Federal Assembly of Germany), including 12 of the WASG.
In March 2006, however, divisions emerged between the WASG and the PDS – now The Left Party.PDS – in Berlin and the East more generally, in the run-up to state elections, due to the continuing involvement of the PDS with the SPD in coalition governments which were instituting cut-backs. The WASG Berlin, against advice or pressure from the national party leadership, announced its intention to run separate lists in Berlin "against" the PDS. The WASG list won 2.9% of the vote in the 17 September elections. The Left Party.PDS share of the vote dropped from 22.6% in 2001 to 13.4% Fact|date=February 2007. The fusion process brought a significant loss in party memberships of WASG.
Politics of Germany
* [http://archiv.w-asg.de Homepage of the WASG, in German]
* [http://www.wasg-verein.de Homepage from the beginnings as registered association WASG e.V., in German]
* [http://www.linksfraktion.de Homepage of the Left parliamentary party, including MPs from Linkspartei.PDS and WASG, in German]
* [http://www.memo.uni-bremen.de Working group for Alternative Economical Politics (Memorandum-Gruppe), in German]
* [http://www.wasg-nrw.de Homepage of the WASG in North Rhine-Westphalia, in German]
* [http://www.juergen-klute.de Homepage of the front-runner for the German regional election in North Rhine-Westphalia in May 2005, pastor Jürgen Klute, in German]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
The Left (Germany) — The Left Die Linke Leader Gesine Lötzsch Klaus Ernst Founded 16 J … Wikipedia
Social democracy — Social democracy … Wikipedia
The Left Party.PDS — This article is about the party before the merger with WASG in 2007. For the current, post merger party, see The Left (Germany). Infobox Germany Former Political Party party name = The Left Party.PDS party name german = Die Linkspartei/PDS party… … Wikipedia
Labour Party (UK) — Labour Party … Wikipedia
The Greens — – The Green Alternative Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative Leader Eva Glawischnig Founded … Wikipedia
Social Democratic Party (Estonia) — Social Democratic Party Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Erakond Leader Sven Mikser Founded 8 September 1990 … Wikipedia
The Guardian — For other uses, see The Guardian (disambiguation). The Guardian A Guardian front page from July 2011 Type Daily newspaper Format Berliner … Wikipedia
The Greens (Netherlands) — Part of a series on Green politics … Wikipedia
Social Democratic Party of Germany — ▪ political party, Germany Introduction German Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands Germany s oldest and largest political party. It advocates the modernization of the economy to meet the demands of globalization (globalization,… … Universalium
Respect – The Unity Coalition — Infobox British Political Party party name = RESPECT – The Unity Coalition party articletitle = RESPECT The Unity Coalition party leader = Linda Smith| (National Chair) chairman = Linda Smith foundation = 25 January, 2004 ideology = Democratic… … Wikipedia