IYSSE wins 7 percent of vote in Humboldt University student parliament election

By our correspondents
20 January 2017

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) won 7 percent of the vote in this week’s student parliament election at Humboldt University in Berlin, the best showing yet for the group.

The IYSSE, the student and youth organization of the Socialist Equality Party (PSG) and the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), received 192 votes, up from the 147 votes it received last year. Based on the preliminary vote result, the IYSSE will be entitled to four seats on the student parliament and came in fifth out of 19 slates.

Significantly most of the student organizations that are affiliated to parties represented in the German Parliament received many fewer votes than the IYSSE. The student organization of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (RCDS) received 153 votes (5,6 percent), the student group of the Green Party (Grünboldt) 128 votes (4,7 percent) and the Left Party's SDS 123 votes (4,5 percent).

Among the student organization which have significant financial and personal resources at their disposal only the Jusos, the student organization of the Social Democratic Party, received slightly more votes than the IYSSE with a result of 8 percent.

In its election statement, the IYSSE explained that it was taking part in the election “in order to build a movement against militarism and war, the growth of social inequality and the rise of the right wing. We want to prevent Humboldt University being transformed into a centre of right-wing and militarist ideology, as was the case during the First and Second World Wars.”

Sven Wurm, the IYSSE spokesperson at Humboldt University, said: “This election result is an important success for our work. It shows that our struggle against militarism and right-wing professors is finding increasing resonance among students. Many students are worried about the shift to the right taking place at Humboldt University. And we were the only list [of candidates] that took a stand against this.”

The IYSSE statement warned that the ruling classes of Europe, and Germany in particular, are calling for the return of militarism and domestic repression. “Universities play a central role in the ideological preparation of this policy,” it said.

At Humboldt University, Professors Jörg Baberowski and Herfried Münkler are especially closely connected with this militarist campaign. “While the latter demands that Berlin again act as a ‘hegemon’ and ‘disciplinarian’ in Europe, the former is an avowed supporter of Nazi apologist Ernst Nolte and plays down the crimes of National Socialism (Nazism). He rails against refugees and bangs the drum for ‘law and order’,” the statement explained.

The IYSSE discussed these developments in several well-attended election meetings. At the first meeting, held in December, David North, the chairman of the World Socialist Web Site International Editorial Board, reviewed the causes and consequences of the election of Donald Trump before an audience of 250 people. At the second meeting, on January 4, the IYSSE discussed the repercussions of Trump’s election in Europe and explained that the German bourgeoisie is using the US election result in order to promote its own aggressive agenda, both at home and abroad.

At the third and final election meeting last Monday, the IYSSE explained the special role that Humboldt University is playing in the preparation and ideological justification for war and dictatorship. Several IYSSE representatives explained the importance of an international and socialist perspective.

“The election campaign and the series of meetings we have held in recent weeks were very important,” Wurm said. “Many students were shocked by the election of Donald Trump. At the same time, they were not aware how aggressively the German bourgeoisie was reacting to it and what a significant role the universities are playing in the preparation of right-wing policies.

“After our meetings, many of those attending took campaign materials with them and distributed them among friends and throughout the university campus. Several have supported the election campaign directly and want to become members of the IYSSE.”

The IYSSE’s election statement noted: “Whether we like it or not, we are returning to times that will be just as turbulent and full of crisis as the first half of the twentieth century. Everything depends on the building of a new, international anti-war movement. It must be based on the working class, it must be anti-capitalist and it needs an international, socialist perspective.”

Wurm added: “Our election result shows that growing numbers of students are no longer prepared to accept the development of war and dictatorship and are beginning instead to turn towards a revolutionary perspective.”

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