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17. August 2005

The Left Party.PDS (Die Linkspartei.PDS) is the Party of Democratic Socialism in Germany

Who we are

The Left Party.PDS (Die Linkspartei.PDS) is the Party of Democratic Socialism in Germany. It is the party of social justice and anti-fascism, which is campaigning resolutely against racism, anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism. It remains what it has always been: a consistent anti-war party. Out and inside parliaments the Left Party.PDS champions a redistribution of social wealth from the top to the bottom of society, for a development in Germany, Europe and the world, based on the interests of the people and carried out by the people in self-determination. The Left Party.PDS is represented in many local and federal state assemblies in Eastern Germany. In 1990, then still as PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism), the party was elected for the first time with several deputies into the German Bundestag (federal parliament). In 1998 it was re-elected with its own parliamentary Group. One of the most painful breaks was the result of the Bundestag elections in 2002, which prevented the party from re-entering parliament.
The Left Party.PDS is today represented in the Bundestag by two MPs, Gesine Lötzsch and Petra Pau, who were directly elected in their constituencies. The Left Party.PDS is convinced to return to parliament as a Group with full rights after the early elections on 18 September 2005.

What is Socialism meaning to us?

What socialism means to me, you can read in our party programme adopted in October 2003: an essential aim - a society in which the free development of any individual is the precondition for the free development of all. A movement against the exploitation of men by men, against patriarchal oppression, against plundering nature, for the preservation and development of human culture, for the implementation of human rights, a society where people are handling their affairs in a democratic way. Socialism stands for a value system in which freedom, equality, solidarity, emancipation, justice, the preservation of nature and peace are inseparably linked to one another.
Lothar Bisky, Chair of PDS (The Left Party.PDS since 17 July 2005), from 1993 to 2000 and since 2003

Origins

The PDS has changed its name into Left Party.PDS in July 2005 in order to pave the way for an strong Left in Germany by an alliance with the Election Alternative for Employment and Social Justice (WASG) and other left forces. The party emerged from the SED (Socialist Unity Party - the ruling party of former East Germany) at the end of 1989. 95% of the former SED members did not join the PDS. About 62.000 people are members of the Left Party.PDS today. They are predominantly people who had realized in the last years of the GDR (German Democratic Republic), that radical reforms were inevitable.
An extraordinary party congress was convened under massive pressure of the party members in December 1989. The delegates made a clear break with Stalinism and committed themselves to the principles of democratic socialism.
Over 25.000 people young and old from West and East Germany have joined the party since 1990. In former West Germany the Left Party.PDS has about 5.000 members.

A new beginning

The Left Party.PDS is recognising its history and its share of responsibility for mistakes, errors and crimes committed in the name of socialism and communism. At its extraordinary congress in December 1989 the PDS apologised to the people for the disastrous politics of the SED leadership and has repeatedly done so since. It seeks social change exclusively by majorities being democratically elected and by instruments being democratically legitimised. The party's "open lists", where non-party members have the chance to run for the Bundestag, the European Parliament, state and local assemblies, show clearly that it takes the demand seriously that parliaments should not be composed of members of political parties alone.

Future

Unemployed, workers, office workers, civil servants, students, trainees, physicians, self-employed people, entrepreneurs and many others have joined the Left Party.PDS in the East and West of Germany. The people who vote for the Left Party.PDS are - unlike its membership - predominantly young. Throughout the country the party holds about 4.000 mandates, 173 of them in the western part of Germany, which can be seen as a sign of hope We have two heads of district authorities, over 160 full and part-time mayors and 22 full-time municipal civil servants on a Left Party.PDS ticket and about 1,300 deputies in district and city assemblies. The Left Party.PDS has a strong representation in all federal state parliaments of the Eastern part of Germany. It shares government responsibility with the SPD (Social Democratic Party) in the federal states of Berlin and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. In both governmants we have two male and one female ministers. All these mandates are observed in a spirit of high responsibility and in the interest of all citizens. We will, of course, continue to pursue our political ideals - in and outside parliaments.

Structure

The Left Party.PDS has its organisations in all 16 federal states of Germany. A federal state organisation is subdivided into city and district organisations (borough organisations in Berlin) - across the entire eastern part of Germany and in major cities in the western part. Everyone can become a member at a district organisation or cell who is 16 years old and not a member of any other German political party. He or she has to declare his/her support for the principles of the party programme and accept the statutes. Unlike many other parties The Left Party.PDS is offering extensive rights to sympathisers. People who have not (or not yet) decided to become full members, can work in bodies and interest groups. In many cases they have even the right to vote.
The executive committees at all levels are elected in a democratic way with the number of women having to be not less than 50%. We have, compared with all the other parties, the largest number of women in local politics and together with the Green Party the largest number of women in executive committees and parliaments. The National Congress is the highest body of the party, which is elected every two years. The delegates elected for one legislature are as a rule convened several times for congress sessions, in order to guarantee their active participation in party matters. Between congress sessions the National Executive Board is the highest body, which is controlled and consulted by the Party Council.

In addition to the regional organisations there are many working and interest groups, which have specialized in different political fields such as "Health and Social Affairs", "Companies and Trade Unions", "Peace and International Politics", "Self-Determined Disabled Policy" or groups for the rights of gays, lesbians, transsexuals, women, refugees and immigrants. Platforms like the "Ecological Platform" or the "Communist Platform" and the "Marxist Forum" try to gain attention for their opinions. The working group of Christians feels an obligation towards the thoughts of the former Protestant bishop Albrecht Schönherr who said: "What is solidarity to marxists and charity to christians is very similar indeed."

Europe

The Left Party.PDS is a founding member of the "Party of the European Left" (May 2004) and is committed to internationalist cooperation - not just in Europe. We are Members of the European Parliament since 1999 with today seven MEPs of the "European United Left/Nordic Green Left" Group (GUE-NGL). We affirm European integration and understand an extended European Union to be a further step towards securing peace and stability on our continent. It is more important for a sustainable EU than ever, to give rise to a "Europe for the people". For reaching this aim we need democratic participation of all people living in Europe and decisions which are transparent and close to the citizens. A Europe that is up to now predominantly focused on market and competition will not live up to the challenges of the future. Europe will not grow together by money, the Euro, and the predominant rigid logic of market and competition. We are, therefore, for a political change towards a social Europe, in which the economic potentials of the Single Market are used to create jobs. We do not want Europe to become a military power intervening in conflicts world wide. We support a civil Europe expressing solidarity with the states of the Southern hemisphere. Only such a policy helps to abolish violence and terror. That is why the Left Party.PDS refused the treaty for a European constitution although acknowledging the progress made in comparison to the agreements of Amsterdam and Nice. It is essential to forward concrete alternative proposals in order to make the political dimensions of a different Europe aspired by us a reality.

Parteivorstand der Linkspartei.PDS
Kleine Alexanderstraße 28,
D-10178 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 24009-0
Fax: +49 30 241 10 46
www.sozialisten.de

International Relations/International Policy Office
Phone: +49 30 24009-286
Fax: +49 30 24009-425
e-mail: fip@linkspartei.de  

International
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