September 15, 2005


Germany's new Left Party has momentum going into Sunday's vote (Andreas Tzortzis, 9/16/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

Part populist, part socialist, the Left Party currently commands between 7 and 9 percent of the vote, ahead of the conservatives' possible coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Schröder's junior coalition partner, the Green Party. Should they retain their lead, they could force the CDU and the SPD into a "grand coalition," with Merkel as chancellor and Schröder's party as her junior partner - a prospect experts predict would halt the CDU's planned pro-market reforms because of political infighting.

Nothing would please the Left more.

Fundamentally, the Left Party is offering a radically different answer to the question of how Germany should reform its lethargic economy to remain competitive and grow jobs. Until now, the major parties have been telling Germans that cuts to the country's bloated social welfare system, tax reform, and a more flexible labor market are crucial to reviving the "sick man of Europe."

The Left Party, on the other hand, invokes terms like "social economic justice" to comfort voters like Geppe by suggesting alternatives to liberal reform.

"There need to be fundamental changes in the system," says Bernd Ihme, a Left Party official. "We don't want big business to think that it's not responsible for the well-being of the people."

The Left is strongest in the economically depressed East, where current polls show them commanding around 30 percent of the vote, several points ahead of both the CDU and SPD. The party's push for further tax hikes on the rich in order to finance employment programs, the education system, and the continuation of Germany's welfare system resonates with a region that lived under a socialist economy for more than 40 years.

Of course, the Left Party is also running on anti-immigrant nationalism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 15, 2005 6:19 PM

There is no socialism like national socialism.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2005 11:37 PM


They also put the gas in . . .

Posted by: obc at September 15, 2005 11:39 PM

If these real national socialists win the elections in Eastern Germany convincingly, the crypto-national socialist president of the SPD (who approved the infamous bloodsucker-campaign in a regional election in April)will dump Schroeder and form a coalition with the new Nazi party and the Greens.

Posted by: Peter at September 16, 2005 3:23 AM

The CDU should refuse to take power. Let the Left keep power so as to fully lose the next election. Power without real authority is a political disaster. Merkel will get the blame when things keep going badly but she can't do the things necesary to improve the economy. However, like all politicians, the short term rush of becoming a minister will take over.

Posted by: Bob at September 16, 2005 12:16 PM