from Walter Held in Germany
Before any of the left forums start heralding the success of the German Left Party - die Linke - is gaining 16% of the votes in the Saarland here is an overview of what actually happened yesterday.
In the Saarland, German voters have dealt another blow to the Left Party. Whereas in 2009, the Linke achieved 21.3% of the votes and came close to matching the strength of the social democrats with their 24.5%, the party has lost much ground.
There was a rightwing coalition in the Saarland with CDU, FDP and Greens since 2009 but it came apart in January this year. New elections have actually strengthened the Christian Democrats with their policy of sanitising the budget. The even more rightwing FDP has crashlanded and moved from 9% to below 2% and thus lost all its seats in the Land parliament.
The Linke which has been stigmatised by all other parties has seen its support crumble from a strong 21% plus to only 16,1% yesterday. On the other hand the SPD has picked up the 5.2% Linke losses and has moved up in strength to over 30% so that the gap between the two parties is no longer 3% but around 14% difference.
Even the confused and confusing Pirate Party has simply appeared and gained over 7% of the votes overnight without many people knowing what their policies are.
Another election is looming in May, that is Northrhine Westfalia (NRW), where the minority SPD/Green government failed to get its Land budget passed. The rightwing opposed the budget because it demanded too much new credit, the Linke opposed it because it didn't demand enough new credit to pay for subsidies in education and a cheap public transport ticket. But instead of being rewarded for putting forward progressive demands, the Linke in NRW looks as if it is teetering on the edge of the 5% hurdle for gaining any seats in the Land Parliament. The Pirates, on the other hand, will apparently sail easily into parliament.
The Saar SPD, like the NRW SPD, refuse to work with the Linke, and so voters see that the Left Party cannot help them in the political fight against the welfare cuts. The riddle is why should workers return to the SPD in this time of crisis when the leaders publicly oppose progressive policies? And why does the Linke remain profoundly unattractive for nearly all workers when one of their leaders is actually leading public service workers on a series of strikes for a 6.5% wages increase.
Graphic of the results
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