Berlin refuses to say Yes to Lisbon Treaty

26 May 2008

Berlin refuses to say Yes to Lisbon Treaty

The refusal of the German federal state of Berlin to vote in favour of the European reform treaty – the Lisbon Treaty – sends a message to voters in the Netherlands and France who three years ago rejected the - to all intents and purposes identical - European Constitution. Yet their governments nevertheless chose to approve the new treaty, said Oskar Lafontaine in an address this weekend delivered in Cottbus at the congress of his party, Die Linke (The Left).

In Germany too, said Lafontaine, voters have been denied the opportunity to express their views of the European Constitution's successor. The refusal of representatives from the German capital in the Bundesrat, the German Federal Senate, to give their approval to the new treaty demonstrated, Lafontaine argued, that in Germany, just as elsewhere, there were many people who supported European cooperation but opposed the way in which this was now being carried out.

Other parties clearly saw Berlin's refusal to say 'yes' to the new treaty as evidence of the growing influence of Die Linke, the German capital being governed by a coalition of The Left and the pro-Lisbon social democrats, the SPD.

Lafontaine declared that his party was now able to put important themes on to the political agenda at national level, offering as examples the need for a general minimum wage, improved pensions and a change of direction in foreign policy. On all of these points Die Linke enjoyed the support of a majority of the voters.

Following a number of electoral successes at state and local level, Die Linke, measured by the number of elected representatives, was now Germany's third biggest party.

Tiny KoxSP Senator Tiny Kox, present in Cottbus in his capacity as Chair of the European United Left group (GUE) in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, expressed the hope that Die Linke would develop further as a social party of the people. “It is important for us in the Netherlands too to have good neighbours involved in politics. Developments in Germany show that the need for a significant left party, a social party of the people, is not only true of the Netherlands, but also of other European countries. This gives us hope.”

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