Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The PSG and the EU elections

By Frank Brenner

Deutsch: Die PSG und die Europawahl

After the recent European Union elections, the WSWS ran a number of articles assessing the results of these elections, including the performance of the German section of the International Committee, the PSG (Partei fur Soziale Gleichheit). These articles bear some comment.

First, some facts. The PSG received 9,673 votes in the election. This compares to the previous election, in 2004, where the PSG received 25,800 votes. Which is to say that the party’s vote fell by a whopping 62.5 percent. To call this a steep decline is an understatement. Moreover, the PSG scored dead last of the 31 German parties contesting the EU election, including some very obscure and makeshift groups peddling everything from spiritual politics to the merits of internet file-sharing. This result is all the more noteworthy given that these elections were held in the midst of the global financial crisis, which is hitting the German working class hard.

So what accounts for this? Surely that should be a pressing concern for the party. But you won’t find a coherent explanation in the WSWS commentary. Here is how PSG leader Ulrich Rippert handles the issue in his assessment of his party’s campaign:

"The PSG received 9,673 votes. While this total is significantly less than the vote won by the party in the European election five years ago, it would be a mistake to assess the significance of the elections from the narrow viewpoint of how many votes were won."

Now, it is true that Trotskyist parties are not electoralist machines and that votes are not the primary consideration determining our politics. But clearly votes have some significance. Imagine if the PSG vote had increased by 62.5 percent: of course the party would have trumpeted such as a result as indicative of a growing influence in the working class. Indeed this is just what happened in 2004. Then the WSWS was so proud of the PSG vote that it put the vote numbers in the headline: “Socialist Equality Party of Germany receives nearly 26,000 votes”. The article went on to declare: “This increase in votes is of considerable political significance. It shows that a section of workers, intellectuals and youth are beginning to seriously take up political issues and support an international socialist perspective.”

But you can’t have it both ways – you can’t take credit for a good result but dismiss the significance of a bad one. There is – or should be – no question that such a dramatic fall in the party’s vote calls for a critical reappraisal of what the PSG has been doing to reach the working class.

Read entire essay HERE