Junior politician defends remarks about collectivization amid criticism in Germany

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-03 19:23:59|Editor: xuxin
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BERLIN, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Following an interview in the newspaper Die Zeit in which the head of the young social democrats in Germany (Juso) advocated the "democratic" collectivization of large companies, Kevin Kuehnert has defended his ideas on socialism against criticism on Friday.

"I meant what I said very seriously," Kuehnert said. Capitalism had "penetrated far too many areas of life. We cannot go on like this in any case."

"I no longer feel like discussing essential issues only when peace is at stake, and talking around them in the election campaign", Kuehnert said. In order to find a new political style, "we cannot always bite our tongues when it comes to the really big questions."

His interview caused immediate criticism, even from his own Social Democratic Party (SPD). "What gross nonsense. What did he smoke? It couldn't have been legal," Johannes Kahrs, member of the Bundestag for the SPD wrote on Twitter and added that Kuehnert's statements "had nothing to do with reality."

Markus Blume, general secretary of the conservative Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), demanded that "the SPD leadership must clearly distance itself from such fantasies." Blume added that with these views, Juso leader Kuehnert should join the Left Party. "With such people, no state can be made and a government cannot function."

Unsurprisingly, German industry representatives also joined the critics. "Unfinished ideas for a socialist form of economy and society are lost in the mists of yesterday's uncertain wishes and recipes," Joachim Lang, managing director of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), told the German press agency (dpa).

"The collectivization of companies and other planned economic methods would immediately stifle the driving forces of successful economic activity," Lang said but added that "the social market economy is more than just an empty shell and must be lived. In the social market economy, freedom and responsibility belong together."

Although he did not agree with all of Kuehnert's theses, SPD vice-president Ralf Stegner defended the 29-year-old Juso leader and spoke of a "storm in a water glass".

Stegner said on Friday on Deutschlandfunk radio that a Juso chairman could "formulate things more radically" when talking about "political utopias". Also, Kuehnert had made it clear that it was about democratic socialism and that the young politician had addressed serious grievances in Germany, for example in the area of housing.

Addressing rising rents and a lack of affordable housing in many German cities, Kuehnert had proclaimed that it was not a "legitimate business model" to make a living from other people's living space. "In the ideal case there are no more private rentals at all."

In the debate about higher rents in major German cities, Bernd Riexinger, head of Germany's left party Die Linke, called for a temporary halt to all rent increases. "The rents must go down," Riexinger told the dpa and demanded that "the question of ownership must be raised with the large real estate groups."