Preparing for the Elections and Fair Rents Referendum
Report from the LINKE Internationals Elections Launch Meeting
by Phil Butland
On Monday, 3rd May, 15 people met in Hasenheide Park to launch the LINKE Berlin Internationals campaign for the coming elections and referendum for fair rents. Another 15 took part in the meeting via an online link.
The LINKE election programmes are already available for the national and local elections, and a more basic version will be available in different languages. Further texts will be available for social media, and the LINKE Berlin Internationals will help to organise some translations. If you think you can help, please contact email@example.com.
The meeting opened with introductions from Franziska Brychcy (LINKE councillor in Berlin with responsibility for European politics) and Jana Wekel from the LINKE election office. In September, there will be elections on a national, regional and city level. Franziska and Jana explained the LINKE campaigns for a more social and ecological politics.
We discussed some of the key debates likely to come up in the elections, with the environment playing a central role. While the SPD is experiencing serious losses, the Green party is polling well, although their orientation is on building a Green Capitalism. Furthermore, the Greens seem to be looking towards a coalition with the irrevocably neoliberal CDU.
Other issues discussed include refugee rights, growing racism and police repression. The Berlin LINKE Internationals will be organising meetings and other activities around these issues in the coming months. EU citizens are allowed to vote in the local elections, but the results will affect everyone, so we encourage everyone to join the campaign.
The number one issue for most Berliners is still housing. Jaime Martinez Porro from the Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen (DWE) English-language Right2TheCity campaign introduced a discussion on the current campaign for a referendum on expropriating the big landlords, which should take place on the same day as the elections.
The next big event planned by Right2TheCity will be on 29 May, probably in Tempelhofer Feld, to highlight the scandalous lack of voting rights for the 22% of Berliners without German passports. Although non-Germans pay exorbitant rents, they are not allowed to vote in the referendum which significantly affects how much rent we all have to pay.
There followed a discussion on which demands we should make for voting rights. For example, should it extend to people on their first day in Berlin? DWE and Right2TheCity are working on specific demands and would appreciate the involvement of anyone who would like to help. But a basic rule of thumb is, if you are paying rents, you should be able to take part in a referendum which affects how much you pay. This should also include 16 and 17 year olds and the right to vote in the general and local elections.
The second half of the meeting included a number of presentations about future projects, including from some members of theleftberlin editorial board. Although theleftberlin is not directly affiliated with Die LINKE and has an independent editorial board, we value our working relationship with the LINKE Berlin Internationals.
The following projects were introduced:
The relaunch of the website theleftberlin.com – this month, we are planning to relaunch the website with a new look and feel. Before this can happen, we need help from people to copy pages from the old website to the new one. We are also always keen to meet new writers, translators, editors and anyone else who can help produce our website and weekly Newsletter.
Social media – last month, we created a social media team to improve our presence on social media, which at the moment largely means Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (although at last night’s meeting we also discussed a presence on TikTok). The social media team is developing a strategy and would welcome support and collaboration.
Podcast – we are planning to launch a new podcast and are looking for people who can help in various capacities – from appearing on the podcast through suggesting subjects and speakers to working on the technics behind the scenes. There will be a follow-up meeting soon to discuss the next steps.
Public Meetings – the LINKE Berlin Internationals organise a monthly public meeting. Because of Covid-19, these have been largely online, but in Summer a hybrid format of live streaming from a park may be possible. In the run up to the elections, the topics will concentrate on issues which will come up in the campaign. Please make suggestions about what you’d like us to discuss.
Küfa – a monthly meeting where we cook together, eat together and chat in a more informal context. The first event will hopefully take place at the end of May, on or around Oranienplatz.
Summer Camp – On 4th - 5th September, the LINKE Internationals will be organising their annual Summer Camp in Hermsdorf Naturfreundehaus (equivalent to a Youth Hostel). It still looks likely that this year’s Summer Camp can take place despite Covid. While there is already a rough programme of workshops, keynote speeches and fun, there is still time to make new suggestions.
If you are interested in any or all of these projects, these minutes contain links which tell you how you can get involved.