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The opposite poles in Berlin

In Berlin, Stephan Liebich and Christine Buchholz are antagonists, he in close cooperation with the Social Democrats in the city council, she grassroots activist who wants to topple the city government.


Stephan Liebich is group leader for PDS in the city council in Berlin and leader of PDS in Berlin. He is young, confident and talks openly about everything I bring up – without outside talk. He was a guest at the SV national meeting in Kristiansand last April and has perceived our situation with astonishing precision. He has a main responsibility for everything that happens in collaboration with the Social Democrats in the city government.

- It is no use telling the population that we have to make decisions that affect you, but without us it would be worse. We must show our victories, not defend the compromises.

- The Social Democrats wanted to increase the payment for children in kindergarten by ten percent. We wanted to increase more for the rich, and lower the rates for the poor. It ended in a compromise, but we were the ones who shut up.

- In Berlin, WASG is a gathering of three groups, of people who have opted out of PDS, of people who are provoked by the policies of the city government and by various left-wing sects, among others. trotskister.

The WASG activists in Berlin are most concerned with criticizing the city government. They stand, collect signatures on protests, organize demonstrations. They do not help us with suggestions that we can get the Social Democrats on.

- The trade union movement and PDS agree to say no to neoliberalism, deregulation, privatization and the reduction of welfare schemes. But unlike in Norway, we have not managed to make this a challenge the Social Democrats take into account. And in addition, we have the Greens who are investing in privatization as part of an ideological project on privatized "self-responsibility".

Christine Buchholz is from Hamburg, but now lives in Berlin. She works part-time as a nurse and web editor, is active in the Berlin Social Forum and is a member of the WASG national board.

- WASG is strongly linked to the social protest movement against the federal government's policy. In November 2003, trade unions and ATTAC initiated a demonstration in Berlin. We were hoping for 10-20.000. 100.000 came.

It was in the east that the big protest demonstrations started. In many places, Monday demonstrations were held every week for three months.

- PDS is part of the established society here in Berlin. Student fees have been raised, and there have been redundancies in the public sector. Berlin is also the first state where collective pay is no longer paid for municipal employees. The salary has been reduced for those who work on the U-Bahn and in hospitals. At the same time, working hours have increased.

- PDS has an objective problem: They have many employees, but work like a machine. WASG has had only 5 employees in all of Germany – with headquarters in Fürth, Bavaria. Now an office has also been set up in Berlin.

- WASG has 11.000 members. In Berlin there are 800. In the other states in the east there are a total of 5-700 members. PDS has 9.000 members in Berlin. But we may have as many activists as they do.

- We are facing two important tasks: We expect major budget cuts from the new government. A sharp opposition is therefore needed. And we must create a rally that creates a truly new party, a party that can attract those who today are neither members of the PDS nor the WASG.

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