Two different worlds were visible in Germany last weekend – with a huge gap separating the one from the other. In Berlin, the SPD leadership were celebrating the party’s 140th anniversary. As party leader and chancellor Gerhard Schröder defended his counter-reformist "Agenda 2010" and praised Tony Blair’s "New Labour" as a successful example of "modern" social democracy. At the same time, up and down the country, some 90,000 workers responded to a call by the Trade Union Federation, the DGB and demonstrated against Schröder’s attempt to dismantle the welfare state. In East Germany, 84% of all steel workers organised in the IG Metall voted in favour of industrial action for the 35-hour week which had been introduced in the West back in the 1990s.

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