Personal statement by Christine Buchholz from the Left Party parliamentary group, on the basis of Rule 31 of the Rules of Procedure of the German Bundestag
No to the Europe of Banks – Yes to resisting the dismantling of social welfare in Spain
Today, I am voting against the financial assistance for the Spanish and European banks, since those people who helped bring about the crisis must not be rewarded. For years, the Spanish bankers made millions in profits from property speculation. Now, the European governments are converting the banks’ private debt into sovereign debt. They want workers to replace the money that the banks have gambled away.
It is unacceptable for the general public to be asked to cough up money which has been lost through speculation, whilst the banks can continue their financial dealings as in the past. The banks and the financial markets must be divested of their power. Before there can be any talk of using taxpayers’ money to bail out the banks, they must be nationalised and brought under democratic control.
Not one cent of the 100 billion euros made available will benefit the Spanish population. Over the past few years, 400,000 families have been forced to abandon their homes because they were unable to pay back the money that they had borrowed from the banks. The banks are being bailed out, but the families are not. Instead, the rescue package for the banks constitutes an onslaught on the social achievements of the Spanish workers’ movement. Labour-market and tax reform, privatisation, liberalisation and higher electricity prices are being called for. The Spanish government has adopted four packages of cuts within the space of six months. It has slashed billions from the education and health budgets, sacked teachers and raised tuition fees by 66 per cent. It now intends to privatise the railways, airports and ports amongst other things and drastically increase VAT.
The most recent reform of the labour markets made it cheaper to lay people off and set retirement age at 67 years. It is employees who have to suffer the impacts. One third of adults and half of young people are out of work. Of the 45 million inhabitants, 11 million are poor. As in Greece, increasing numbers of people are deciding to take their own lives due to financial problems.
In 2011 the indignado-movement occupied squares in 70 spanish cities – like the egyptians. Resistance to the cuts is growing. During the second general strike in March, more than 10 million workers went on strike. On 22 May, the first general strike ever took place across the whole of the education sector: from pre-school to university level. The miners are currently engaged in an open-ended general strike, protesting against the government’s intention of abolishing the promised subsidies for coal and laying off thousands of miners.
And employees in Germany are also paying for the financial assistance to the Spanish banks. It is their taxes which are being used to rescue the banks. I am voting “no” because I am against workers in Europe being played off against each other by the ruling classes.
By voting “no” in the Bundestag, I am voting “yes” to the resistance. I support the resistance of the trade unions in Spain to the impoverishment programme being pursued by the Spanish government and the troika. It is only solidarity in resistance to these measures which can defeat the austerity diktat imposed by the ruling class.
Que la crisis la paguen los capitalistas!
19 July 2012