I attach the not very idiomatic report of the 3rd Congress of the PDS from their web site.
Information on the results of the 3rd Session of the 6th Congress of the PDS
This session took place on 7-9 April, 2000 in Münster in North-Rhine Westphalia - for the first time in a West German federal state. The PDS had taken this decision to demonstrate after the successful elections of the years 1998/99 the importance of a growing influence and stronger organisations in the lander of the old FRG. At the same time this was meant as a support of the PDS campaign for the Landtag election in this federal state due on 14 May, 2000.
For financial and organisational reasons the PDS had not invited partner organisations from abroad to take part in this session. Representatives of several foreign embassies attended as observers.
The main points of the agenda were:
Keynote speech of the party chairman General discussion and decision on continuing the programmatic debate in the party Discussion and decisions on the following problems: - Armed military missions of the UN - Future orientated ecological policy - North-South relationship, just world economic order - Gender emancipation Amendments to the party constitution
The session attracted considerable media attention. The number of the registered correspondents exceeded that of the delegates. The whole session of 2,5 days was transmitted live by one public TV program and one radio station.
The following are the main results of the session:
1.After the general debate on the keynote speech of party chairman, Lothar Bisky, the congress adopted a political resolution which calls for basic changes in the development of society to prevent the destruction of the welfare state. It must be reconstructed under the new circumstances. The party views itself as part of this society and signals from Münster a new opening towards it. It seeks closer co-operation with all forces striving for a sustainable development. It will put forward its own specific propositions and not duplicate erroneous projects of Social democrats and Greens.
2.After a thorough debate the congress decided with a big majority against the vote of delegates of the Communist Platform, the Marxist Forum and others on a revision of the party programme of 1993, thus paving the way for a programmatic renovation of the party. No time limit was set for this work but the national election of autumn 2002 is exerting a certain pressure. The voters of the socialist party in Germany have the right to know about the principal political and programmatic positions of the PDS. Lothar Bisky demanded in his speech neither to exaggerate nor to deny the chances and the potential of reform in this society.
3.The congress stated the necessity to pay more attention to the ecological problems in PDS politics. A socialist party can only be an ecological one.
4.In the debate on development issues delegates demanded more active solidarity with the developing countries. All the more so as the PDS is finding growing acceptance with the NGO's working in this field.
5.The worsening social situation of women in Germany ten years after unification was met with harsh criticism. Their real influence on PDS policies is also seen as insufficient, the decision on 50 % reserved places in all leading bodies of the party notwithstanding.
On the last three issues the National Executive presented position papers (see the PDS website on www.pds-online.de).
6.On application of the National Executive the congress adopted several amendments to the party constitution. The most important one concerns the terms of office for the leading posts of the party. As a lesson from SED times a person was allowed to stay maximum eight years on the same post. According to the amendment adopted by the congress this now refers only to party officials elected individually (chairpersons, vice chairpersons, general secretaries, treasurers) on the lander and national levels. After a special decision of the competent body adopted by two thirds of the vote a prolongation of two years is possible. For the lower levels the limit has been lifted altogether.
7.On the position of the party towards armed UN missions according to Chapter VII of the Charter the session continued the passionate, emotional debate which has been going on for several weeks. It adopted by big majority a resolution confirming the anti- militarist consensus of the party, its character as a force of peace. Important points of this consensus are:
a civil, non-military foreign and security policy peaceful, non-military solutions to conflicts, their preventive handling no militarisation of the EU general and full disarmament, prohibition of weapons of mass destruction and arms exports no Bundeswehr missions in foreign countries.
The motion presented by PDS Vice Chair Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann and about one hundred more persons (MP's, adherents of Communist Platform, Marxist Forum and others) which was adopted by the congress differs with that of the National Executive and the Bundestag group of deputies in one point: the uncompromising rejection of any UN armed missions according to Chapter VII of the Charter. In their motion the National Executive and the Group of deputies had asked for the examination of individual cases on the basis of the general consensus mentioned above. The resolution adopted by the congress presents a clear framework for further activities in this field in and outside parliament. It is to be expected that the debates will continue as programmatic work is progressing.
Party chairman Lothar Bisky declared in his keynote speech at the beginning of the session that at the end of his eight year term he will be no longer available for this post. The election of a new chairperson will take place at the 1st session of the 7th congress in the first quarter of 2001. An earlier convocation of this congress seems probable. Lothar Bisky announced that from then on he will pay more attention to his tasks as chairman of the PDS Group of deputies in the Brandenburg Landtag and chairman of the PDS program commission. Another field of activities he sees in promoting political culture within the party.
At the end of the session the chairman of the PDS Group of deputies in the Bundestag, Gregor Gysi, informed on his intention not to be available for this post in the new election within the group planned for this autumn. He will, nevertheless, stay a member of the group until the next national election in autumn 2002. On this decision he had informed prior to the congress a number of responsible persons in the PDS leading bodies. He motivated his step with his eleven years' stay on this post, his personal plans for the future and his wish to clear the way for younger persons.
The retirement of two highly important figures from their posts in the near future poses a serious challenge to the party, especially its younger leading personnel. The media declared this matter immediately the most important question of the congress and spoke about a leadership crisis in the PDS. The decisions of the two comrades give the party the chance to carry out the due generation change on these important posts according to the normal procedure prescribed by the constitution. The congress thanked both comrades by long standing ovations for their big merits in developing the party, gaining it a strong position and broad acceptance in society.
The Münster congress confirmed the anti-capitalist, anti-militarist, anti-fascist, democratic socialist orientation of the PDS. The party will carry out the necessary change of leadership and address even more energetically the real problems and contradictions of society. As the ruling circles in Germany stick to a neo-liberal course with permanently high unemployment rates and dismantling of the welfare state a socialist party is urgently needed; the chances of the PDS, the demand for its alternative proposals have never been higher in this country. The PDS remains a stable and reliable factor of co-operation and solidarity for all its friends and partners at home and abroad.