Lafontaine balks at working with SPD
Oskar Lafontaine, populist chairman of Germany's hard-line socialist Left party Die Linke, has reacted belligerently to the centre-left Social Democratic Party's apparent new openness to working together at the state level.
In an interview to be published on Saturday, Lafontaine told the Bonn-based newspaper General-Anzeiger that Die Linke would not enter any coalitions with the Social Democrats (SPD) as long they were dictating the terms.
This comes in reaction to the interview SPD Chairman Franz Müntefering gave last weekend in Stern magazine, where he expressed a willingness to allow the regional SPD chapters to negotiate coalitions with the socialists. According to Lafontaine, who was once head of the SPD only to quit the post in a huff, the Social Democrats only wants to work with Die Linke “if they can get their state premiers in.”
The SPD chapters in Saarland and Thuringia are currently being noticeably reluctant to negotiate coalitions with The Left party, for fear that the stronger socialist party could be in a position to install the premier in upcoming state elections.
Lafontaine accused the SPD of disregarding political substance in favour of making power deals. "If the voters want something else, the SPD acts all offended and doesn't want to play anymore.”
He also demanded that the SPD in Saarland rule out a grand coalition with the CDU before the election if it wants a credible cooperation with Die Linke.
Lafontaine, who only joined the former communists in his current party a few years ago, said that the Social Democrats had not yet accepted the five-party system that Germany is settling into. He made clear that Die Linke would only take the SPD seriously as a potential partner if it is ready to follow parliamentary rules.