News round-up 14th Mar 2020
Left president backs AfD's 'parliamentary rights' in Thuringia
Bodo Ramelow, the Die Linke president of Thuringia, shocked his supporters by backing an AfD candidate for vice-president of the state. The left had previously condemned the center-right CDU and FDP parties for voting with the AfD to try to keep Ramelow out of the presidency. Ramelow said he voted for the AfD vice-president because they had "parliamentary rights" to participate.
US troops arrive in Bavaria for huge NATO exercise
The first US soldiers participating in the "Defender 2020" military exercises have arrived in Bavaria. The maneuvers near the border with Russia will rehearse the deployment of an entire division to Eastern Europe. It involves 37,000 soldiers from 18 NATO states, including 20,000 from North America. Anti-war groups are planning protests.
AfD faction added to extremism watchlist
The most radical faction of the AfD party, "Der Flügel" (The Wing), has been added to a watchlist of extreme right-wing groups. Led by the party chairman in Thuringia, the fascist Björn Höcke, the group will now be monitored by the federal Verfassungsschutz agency ("Office for the Protection of the Consitution"). Die Linke MP Martina Renner commented that observation by the secret service did not replace the need for anti-fascist organising.
Linke leader's 'forced labor' joke leads to resignation calls
Shouldn't the rich be shot after the revolution? No, they should be put to useful work, joked Bernd Riexinger, Die Linke chairman, at the party's strategy conference in Kassel last month. The tongue-in-cheek remark sparked a row, with critics accusing Riexinger of making light of violence and forced labor. On Tuesday, Linke politicians in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern joined calls for him to withdraw from the chairmanship.
Berlin could accommodate 3,000 refugees from Greece
Berlin is ready to accommodate 3,000 refugees from Greece, according to city authorities, but the federal interior ministry has said only 1,500 people will be accepted across the whole of Germany. Integration Senator Elke Breitenbach (Die Linke) told Neues Deutschland that Berlin could accommodate people in existing shelters, and by reopening temporary accommodation on Tempelhofer Feld and Buchholzer Strasse in Pankow. However, she said this would need the cooperation of the federal interior ministry. Berlin's Flüchtlingsrat ("Refugee Council") is calling on the red-red-green senate to accept the refugees even without the consent of the federal government.
Syndikat continues resistance as bailiffs announce eviction date
The fight goes on to stop the eviction of a left-wing collectively-run bar in Neukölln. Syndikat in Weisestrasse has been going for 35 years, but after the building was sold to a mega-landlord in 2018, their lease was not renewed. Bailiffs have announced they will evict the pub on April 17th. Resistance continues in the form of last-minute legal challenges and a community campaign.
Humanist kita teachers and social workers strike
250 kindergarten teachers and social workers went on strike in Berlin this week. The employees of the HVD-BB, a humanist organisation that runs daycare centers and social services, want a pay deal that puts them on equal terms with their peers directly employed by the state. The trade unions GEW and Verdi have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement without success.
Rent freeze to remain in force until final court decision
An emergency legal appeal against the rent freeze (Mietendeckel) has been rejected. Six landlords in Berlin had applied for an injunction to suspend the rent cap until judges make their final decision about whether it is constitutional. That request was rejected, meaning the rent cap remains in force for now. However, the federal consitutional court in Karlsruhe will make a decision in the future about whether the Berlin city administration has the legal authority to impose the rent cap.
Source: Neues Deutschland