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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Une situation inédite depuis 1949

by Jean-Paul Piérot

A Novel Situation in Germany And a Joint Initiative of United European Left Parties Before Their National Parliaments

Germany hit by poverty as never before since 1949

Translated Monday 12 December 2011, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Interviewed on this occasion for l’Humanité, Axel Troost, Linke deputy in the Bundesrat declares: Social inequality in Germany strikes deeper than at any time since 1949”. And indeed a recent IFOP-Humanité poll shows a majority of Germans dissatisfied with the much vaunted « German model » [1].

“That Linke deputies on the one hand and Front de Gauche deputies on the other hand present the same bill before their respective Parliaments is a first for our two parliamentary groups. This kind of Franco-German cooperation will know further developments. The trend is already widening since the Czech Parliament is due next week to debate on the same proposals brought up by the Czech Communist group.

Among the measures proposed, one is largely approved [2] namely the taxation of financial transactions. This proposal comes from Die Linke, but is has the support of the Social Democratic Party and of the Greens. Only the Federal Democratic Party officially opposes it. But all in all, the bill will be voted down by all these parties.

In Germany the gulf between the richest and the poorest is growing wider and wider. We have never seen the like of this since the foundation of the Federal Republic in 1949. The poor have become poorer, and the rich have grown richer. The labour market does not meet people’s expectations. It offers a lot of precarious, temporary, under-paid jobs. It does not give many workers the opportunity to make a decent living. This is why dissatisfaction runs so deep, not just among salaried workers, but also among pensioners who have seen their real income dwindle year after year. The condition of students is often miserable.

Even though social inequality has increased in Germany and caused deep dissatisfaction over the last years, there is still a gap between the actual social situation and the way people see it. When asked for whom they intend to vote in the next elections, many are resigned and no longer believe that politics can help them out of their difficulties. It is a duty for the Left (‘Die Linke) to regain their support and convince them that they can fight and change their country’s policies."

[153 % of them find the level of social protection (unemployment and sick leave benefits, education) inadequate ; 64% find that the education system and the health system operate poorly; 67% think pensions are not sure to be paid over the next twenty years; 86% buy an important part of their food and cleansing products from hard discount stores (against 43% of French people).

[2In the German Parliament,

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