The wife of the Thuringian Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow, the supervisor Germana Alberti, comes from Italy. On Sunday evening, the couple mainly talked about the election victory of the Italian right. "My wife was shocked," reveals the leftist Ramelow to WELT, "but she suspected it."
The problem in Italy, he goes on to say, is not so much “the strength of the right. It's the weakness of the centre-left.” Italians are fed up with governments that are failing themselves. "And when I look at my own store, some still don't get the European signals of recent times!"
Nationalist and right-wing populist parties triumphed in Poland, Hungary, Sweden and now Italy. Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdogan would "rejoice that left-liberal movements in Europe are collapsing," warns Ramelow. His party is also ailing. In last year's general election, it wasn't even enough for five percent. Entry into Parliament was only possible because of a special clause on direct mandates won.
The parliamentary group is caught in factional fighting. When MP Sahra Wagenknecht recently accused the federal government in a speech of having started "an unprecedented economic war against our most important energy supplier" - meaning Russia - there was an internal scandal. There is even speculation about a split in the party.
Ramelow does not want to stand by and watch a decline. After all, the left is still involved in four state governments. In Thuringia, Ramelow leads a red-red-green coalition, and left-wingers are also in government in Bremen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Berlin. Can the party be brought back into shape from the periphery if the center cannot do it?
Leading representatives of the government left are now trying to do just that and are speaking up in a paper that is available to WELT. "Solve the problems with reason and shape the world" says the headline. In addition to the initiator Ramelow, it was signed by the Bremen Senator for Economic Affairs Kristina Vogt, the Berlin Senator for Culture Klaus Lederer and the Education Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Simone Oldenburg.
Measures to be taken in response to the energy and economic crisis are spelled out on six pages. "According to Ramelow, the state left want to make it clear: We have solutions." Instead, the authors distance themselves from "populists: insiders" who "long ranks with right-wing extremists and conspiracy ideologues for a 'winter of fear'".
The paper is "an announcement to the government, to the Union and, of course, also to your own party," said Ramelow. After all, the task of left-wing politics is “responsible government action”. Above all, the fight against energy poverty is now the big challenge. "We will run into situations that require pragmatic solutions." Electricity, gas and fuel prices would have to go down. "We'll tell you how that could work!"
The energy market, like the energy infrastructure and production, must be “reorganized and put into the hands of the citizens”. Energy that is already being produced in the municipalities can prevent price explosions. According to Ramelow, there are around 600 state-funded photovoltaic systems in Thuringia. “They are not allowed to feed anything into the power grid, but they could deliver. That would also lower prices. This is not dirigisme. But pragmatism in the crisis.”
According to the paper, the traffic light coalition has demonstrated its willingness to deal with the crisis with its relief packages. But the contradictions between the SPD, Greens and FDP prevented a clear course. "Criticism of the rigid adherence to the debt brake is an expression of economic reason." Ergo: "The debt brake must be suspended." Ramelow criticizes the federal government for allowing itself to be pushed too far in the crisis. “Neither the end consumer nor the trader can work with such electricity prices. We are ruining our economy with it.”
It is not the task of politics to “give tips on saving money or how to use a washcloth,” write the left-wing government politicians. But to take away the fear of those who fear that they will no longer be able to pay their energy costs. In view of the high fuel prices, it must be prevented that speculators break through one profit margin after the other, while citizens "barely get through the week". In order to cushion the energy crisis financially, the introduction of an excess profit tax is overdue - as in other EU countries. The authors want to cap gas prices by bundling the wholesale market by the state. "Then we don't need a surcharge," says Ramelow.
The proposals laid out in the paper are not a dissenting vote by the left. Demands, for example, for an excess profit tax and the lifting of the debt brake are also regularly heard from the ranks of the SPD and the Greens. The authors want to demonstrate political compatibility. “We put realpolitik up for debate,” says Ramelow.
“Citizens are entitled to no random profits at all,” says Bodo Ramelow. "It can't be that 60 cents per liter is just a special profit driven by speculation," said Thuringia's Prime Minister. "This is where state intervention is finally needed."
Source: WORLD / Nele Würzbach
The paper lists measures that have already been launched in Bremen, Thuringia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Berlin "to deal with the energy crisis in a socially just manner". We are talking about special funds, hardship funds, energy cost subsidies. In Berlin, for example, in the event of energy cost increases, a moratorium on terminations was decided by the state-owned housing construction companies. The government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will submit a proposal for an energy price cap at the next prime ministers' conference. And in Thuringia, the state parliament will soon be discussing the conversion of the Corona special fund into an energy special fund, the project was requested by red-red-green and the Union.
According to Ramelow, it is about putting proposals on the table that are suitable for everyday use and that can win a majority. "That's how I see my job. Citizens shouldn't get the feeling that the party isn't getting anything done. Even a CDU Prime Minister could not simply dismiss our ideas.”
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