Germany Reinvents Democracy
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
After the September 24 elections in Germany in which social democracy was defeated, many questions have been raised, one of which is the issue of the creation of a true social democracy that privileges politics over market forces. In the new German parliament there are now 7 parties split into 6 parliamentary groups.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), together with the Christian Social Union (CSU) obtained a total of 37.9% of the national vote, its worst result since 1949. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) obtained 20.5%, its worst result since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany. The two big social democratic parties of the center and the left, that had formed a grand coalition, convinced only a little more than half of the German electorate, something that had never happened before.
In the new German Parliament there are seven parties split into six parliamentary groups. In addition to the CDU, the CSU and the SPD, there is the Alternative for Germany (AfD) with 12.6%, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) with 10.7%, the Left Party (9.2%) and the Green Party with 8.9%.
The conclusion from these unprecedented results is that the election was a vote against Chancellor Merkel, which points to the beginning of the end of her political era, given that her defensive election strategy did not work. Merkel’s strategists thought that they would have managed to reduce the number of left-wing voters rather than that of her own voters since those strategies had been successful in 2009 and 2013.
So the SPD has two options: the first would be to perform well in government that would satisfy the demands of their social conscience, running the risk of not being an alternative to the left and suffering the same fate of almost disappearing like the French Socialist Party. Another option would be to rebrand the SPD as a party of the masses on the left opposed to the prevailing neoliberal current.
According to historian Sheri Berman, the idea of social democracy was to incorporate the primacy of politics over the market under the dominant organization of the state. What happened in the last two decades was that the Social Democrats did not defend the primacy of politics, but accepted that the global market came first and the parties on the right were then able to reach their current high standing.
They propose to use the influence of politics to protect their countries, even if they harm others. Their responses were very different from the responses of social democracy, namely nationalism rather than international solidarity, authoritarianism instead of democracy and intolerance as opposed to tolerance.
The truth is that the social democratic parties have to restore the primacy of politics without accepting the policies of the right-wing parties. This restoration implies proposing a new way of organizing globalization and not cutting back the political, economic and social action framework for all the countries that are involved in globalization.
It also means re-democratizing democracy by radically reducing the power that institutional investors now have over democratic countries, since right-wing parties, including Germany’s AfD, will not disappear overnight.
So the job of the SPD, the social democratic parties and the left in general will be to regain the position that guarantees the primacy of politics over the market in combination with a democratic state, an open society and respect for minorities.
Addendum: What is happening now in Germany is a political, social and cultural phenomenon that will spread throughout all the countries in Europe, the Middle East and much of the world today whose myths and legal principles are coming to an end, no matter how hard they try to return to a reality that can no longer be restored.