German far-left reports success in west

Most of some 7,500 new recruits to the hard-line socialist Left Party in Germany last year came from states in the former West Germany, party leaders told news agency DPA this week.

“For so many years I have had to share that our membership numbers were sinking,” party leader Dietmar Bartsch said. “In 2007 we started growing again.”

Last June two smaller leftist parties – successors to the East German communist party and disgruntled western Social Democrats and trade unionists – merged to form the first unified hard-line socialist party in Germany’s history. More than two-thirds of the 72,000 members live in Germany’s formerly communist east.

But 6,381 of the 7,570 new members who signed up last year are from the former west, according to party statistics. The fastest growth in the former west was in the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The party was most successful in the west among men between the ages of 40 and 50.