The Left closing in on the SPD

The hard-line socialist Left party is quickly closing the gap between it and the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) as a proposed coalition government between the two in Hesse weighs on the SPD, according to two surveys released Wednesday.

The Left closing in on the SPD
Andrea Ypsilanti greets the head of the Hesse Left Wednesday Photo: DPA

Fifteen percent of those interviewed for a Forsa study commissioned by Stern magazine and broadcaster RTL would vote for the Left party if elections were held now. That’s the best-ever showing for the new party in the weekly poll.

The SPD has stagnated at 20 percent for weeks while the CDU, which governs the country together with the SPD, remained in the lead with 37 percent.

Former SPD voters have defected in droves to the new Left party after they became disenfranchised with tough labour market reforms introduced under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The Left party encompasses the socialist PDS party popular in former East Germany with an association of far-left voters in western Germany.

Most blame the SPD’s latest woes on the party’s chief in the central state of Hesse, Andrea Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti has said she plans to form a coalition government with the Greens and the tacit approval – but not the participation – of the Left party in the central state. Her plans include cutting deals with the Left to allow her to be elected state premier.

She had promised not to work with the Left as she campaigned for a January election that gave no party a clear majority in the state.

“The risks for the political scenarios in Hesse are inacceptable,” said Finance Minister and SPD vice-chairman Peer Steinbrück in a Stern interview. “She’s putting herself in the hands of a party that would be influential without responsibility, without commitment, that eats away at the ability to govern every week.”

In a second Forsa survey commissioned by Stern and daily Frankfurter Rundschau, 59 percent of voters in Hesse opposed Ypsilanti’s coalition plans and 68 percent were against the agreements that will win her the state premier seat.

Sixty-one percent of those interviewed said they favour new elections to clear up the impasse – something the SPD opposes because they would most likely fare far worse than the 39 percent of votes they won early this year.


IN PICTURES: Germany hosts G7 summit with Bavarian twist

G7 leaders are meeting in Bavaria to discuss important issues including Russia's war on Ukraine and the food crisis. The event is known for producing memorable pictures. Here's a look at the best images and tweets so far.

IN PICTURES: Germany hosts G7 summit with Bavarian twist

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The Group of Seven wealthy nations is holding their annual summit in the stunning surroundings of the Bavarian Alps. 

The world leaders are engaged in talks at the Schloss Elmau with a focus on Russia’s war on Ukraine, climate change, energy, the global food crisis and rising inflation. 

The G7 gatherings are known known for producing some memorable photos and amusing moments, and this year is no exception. Here’s a look at the best so far. 

When the G7 summit started on Sunday, the southern state of Bavaria became the standout attraction. 

Leaders of the nations involved – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA – were given traditional Bavarian welcomes. 

Spearheaded by Bavarian premier Markus Söder, the leaders were greeted by people clad in Bavarian costumes, such as the dirndl. 

It sparked heated debates on how Germany is portrayed to the rest of the world.  

READ ALSO: Can Scholz create a Merkel-like buzz at the G7 in Bavaria?

Journalist Mathieu von Rohr said on Twitter: “It’s hard to imagine what Söder would have done to Germany’s image in the world as chancellor.”

Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, walks past people wearing traditional Bavarian costumes after his arrival at Munich airport on June 26th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Karmann

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, walks past people wearing traditional Bavarian costume after his arrival at Munich airport on June 26th.

The left wing newspaper Taz on Monday led with a front page that included this headline: “Finally, indigenous peoples at the G7 summit”.

READ ALSO: Why Bavaria does politics differently to the rest of Germany

The photo of US President Joe Biden signing his name in the Bavarian guest book to Germany produced lots of good captions. 

Nathan Ma poked fun at Germany’s infamous overly complicated contracts that are hard to get out of.

Commentators in Germany have also been making their views known about the events at the summit. 

German broadcaster BR said in an opinion article that the opening G7 event was “like a Monty Python sketch”.

Writer Max Büch said: “Yes, it’s embarrassing that Joe Biden is being coerced by Markus Söder to sign the guestbook at the airport.”

He added: “But people in traditional costume are not embarrassing per se. Even if taz’s ‘indigenous peoples at the G7 summit’ is meant satirically, the title hits a very true core of the image that the rest of Germany still has of Bavaria.”

The southern German traditions continued with Schuhplattler, a traditional style of folk dance popular in the regions of Bavaria and Tyrol. 

“Bavaria makes up perhaps 10 percent of Germany,” one journalist said in another tweet on the Schuhplattler video. “But 90 percent of people abroad think this is all of us.

Bavarian premier Markus Söder defended the opening ceremony. 

He said on Twitter: “Bavaria is the land of homeland and custom: many thanks to our traditional costume associations, musicians and mountain riflemen for their support in welcoming the G7 heads of state. They present the Free State and our traditions with great pride. It was a great backdrop.”

Like every year, the pictures of G7 leaders joking around and getting up, close and personal have also been commented on.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signals to the other G7 leaders during a photo shoot at Elmau. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signals to the other G7 leaders during a photo shoot at Elmau.
We’d love to be a fly on the wall for the private conversations being held between the leaders. Here German Chancellor Olaf Scholz looks on in amusement at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Elmau on June 26th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Elmau on June 26th.

The lack of women G7 leaders was also commented on.