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Union boss likens FDP to Jörg Haider's party

The Local · 5 Apr 2010, 11:26

Published: 05 Apr 2010 11:26 GMT+02:00

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Michael Sommer, chairman of the Confederation of German Trade Unions, the umbrella group representing eight top unions and about 7 million workers, said that FDP leader Guido Westerwelle’s recent strident remarks about welfare compared to work used the same divisive tactics as other right-wing populists.

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) won electoral success with a far-right anti-immigration platform under the late Jörg Haider, who started his political career as a liberal.

Westerwelle had “pitted one minority against the other: the long-term unemployed against low wage-earners, the poorest against the poor,” Sommer told Monday's Hamburger Abendblatt.

“Against the background of German history, that is explosive,” he said.

Sommer likened the divisive tactics to those of Haider, who died in a car crash in 2008, three years after he had split with the FPÖ and formed a new party.

“There, we had the situation where a liberal party has developed in a completely different direction, namely the FPÖ,” he said.

“I view with great concern the fact that social divisiveness and dangerous tendencies for social cohesion are developing in Guido Westerwelle’s FDP. I think the danger is very great that the FDP is drifting in a populist direction. Under the influence of another vice chancellor, Jürgen Möllemann, the FDP has once before leaned towards a right-wing populist tone.”

Former FDP leader Jürgen Möllemann quit the party in 2002 after being criticised for putting out an election campaign flyer that many people deemed anti-Semitic.

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Sommer added that Westerwelle was casting doubt on the value of social equality – an impression Sommer took as “an alarm signal.”

Westerwelle sparked a storm of controversy in February with his attacks on the welfare system. He compared Germany to the “decadent” late-Roman period and said workers were in danger of becoming the nation’s “suckers.”

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:35 April 5, 2010 by Bensonradar
Amazing! Showing right-wing populist tendencies. Maybe this is because people are SICK and TIRED of the unions and their selfish and backward policies.
15:34 April 5, 2010 by dbert4
So instead of the interests of common people, lets trade for the, "selfish and backward policies" of business and religion?

Yeah right, sounds like the American Republican solution to every issue.
01:15 April 6, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, I'm sure everyone knows that there are selfish and greedy people at all levels of society. Look at how those large companies layoff workers, lose countless millions and yet give huge sums of money to CEO's and others. And on the other side, look at how that large union threatened to strike if the German government didn't give them raises, even though they know about the financial struggles of the government.
21:53 April 6, 2010 by Beynch
The unions, in Germany as well as in the much of the rest of Europe, need to have their backs broken. Their stranglehold over the German economy is unacceptable! Unions may have served a purpose in the days of Konrad Adenauer, but today they are a heavy burden, mostly serving as a hindrance to economic progress. Few unions serve a meaningful purpose. Crush them!
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