• Germany's news in English

Shambolic Left party aims to unite for poll

AFP/DDP/The Local · 21 Jun 2009, 09:48

Published: 21 Jun 2009 09:48 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“It’s only by battling courageously side-by-side that we can win,” The Left (Die Linke) chairman Oskar Lafontaine told his audience, torn between a fundamentalist wing and gradualists who would be ready to compromise for a deal with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

The Left party currently polls between eight and 11 percent, a general improvement in its affairs since the last federal election where it got 8.7 percent. It has sought to profit from the financial crisis, stressing taxation schemes which would punish the rich and redistribute wealth to the poor.

Lafontaine, who was briefly finance minister in the first SPD-Green government in the late 1990s, outlined manifesto goals based on redistribution of wealth including hiking the minimum national wage to 10 euros an hour – which would be a 33 percent rise.

He also wants taxes slashed for the poorest and the introduction of new taxes for the super-rich which he claimed would raise “€90 billion per year”, as well as shares for workers in businesses bailed out by the state.

He said landowners, speculators and those who had profited from financial capitalism in recent boom years should pay for the effects of the economic crisis, which has pushed Germany, Europe’s largest economy, into recession.

Lafontaine says he would join a coalition with the SPD led by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said it was their fault that coalition discussions were not taking place.

Seeking a majority for left-wing parties in parliament so they could form a government, he said the current refusal of the SPD to countenance talks was a “stupid” position for his rivals to adopt.

But the Left’s parliamentary party head Gregor Gysi has consistently opposed this position, saying the SPD must ‘re-social-democratise’ itself before the Left could work together – and received ovation for this demand at the meeting.

Story continues below…

SPD head, Franz Müntefering, speaking in Munich, stressed how academic this argument within the Left was, saying there was no way his party would form a national coalition with them. “Whoever votes for the Left must know that it is for the opposition.”

Also on Lafontaine’s party wishlist was the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan and the dissolution of the western military alliance, NATO.

The roughly 500 delegates meeting in Berlin are expected to agree on the manifesto on Sunday. Despite their differences, which have threatened to tear the party apart recently, both Lafontaine and Gysi appealed to the delegates to agree on the manifesto.

AFP/DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd