GERMANY: Monday demonstrations resume

November 17, 1993

Norman Brewer, Berlin

There is talk of an upcoming heisser herbst (hot autumn) in Germany at the moment. Already, Montagsdemonstrationen (Monday demonstrations) have resumed in East Germany.

The tradition goes back to 1989, when mass protests against the Stalinist government were held every Monday in East Germany's larger cities.

On August 2, a quickly organised protest against cutbacks in the social welfare system mobilised an unexpected 10,000 marchers in Madgeburg — organisers had expected 2000 people. The protesters have said they will return every Monday until the governing coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens stop punishing the poor.

An August 6 poll has confirmed that the SPD could expect a devastating result of just 23% in the next election. While the conservative Christian Democrats are polling 44%, this has been falling.

Given Germany's mixed-member proportional electoral system, the results from the smaller parties, whose poll figures are increasing, will be crucial. The Greens, who have been moving inexorably to the right, are polling 13% and the pro-free-market liberal Free Democrats are on 8%, but the biggest increases have been for the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), which is now polling an average of 7% across East and West Germany — comfortably above 5% needed for parliamentary representation. In East Germany, the PDS now beats the SPD by 27% to 22%.

In West Germany, where the PDS is polling just 1-2%, strong hopes are being put into the formation of a "new left party", which may evolve from a upcoming congress between two grassroots organisations, the Electoral Alternative 2006 and the Initiative for Work and Social Justice.

From Green Left Weekly, August 11, 2004.
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