June 12, 2005

New Communist Alliance For German Elections

The communist PDS in Germany, formerly the Soviet-era tyrants of Eastern Germany, is teaming up with Western German trade unionist group WASG to present a far-left ticket for the German elections this fall. Naturally they're challenging the red-green alliance of the Social Democrats and the Greens. The left is not very happy with the market-oriented Hartz Commission reforms undertaken .

Oskar Lafontaine, who left the Social Democrats near the end of May, is looking to run as a main candidate for the new alliance. Gregor Gysi, who led the PDS during the transition from GDR to unified FRG, is also coming back. Together they represent major icons of the left for East and West. Gysi has had some scandals, including his disputed (by both the communist PDS and the liberal-capitalist FDP) conviction of being an informant for the Stasi (East German secret police) and another scandal involving misuse of airline bonus miles as a member of the Bundestag. He's generally considered charismatic and a positive addition to the PDS' list.

The Party for Democratic Socialism and the Election Alternative for Social Justice would have to achieve 5% in the list vote to win seats in the Bundestag. The PDS failed to achieve the hurdle in the 2002 election by 0.7% but elected two members through SMD constituencies.

It's possible that the SPD will see a drop-off to this left challenge and to the CDU on the right, while the Greens are faltering under a passport scandal incurred by Joschka Fischer, formerly Germany's most popular politician. It's very possible that the emergence of a potential left wing threat could put further tension on the Greens (already split between the pro-government faction and the radical faction).

Either way, this doesn't seem to change the likely outcome that that the Christian Democrats (& CSU) and the Free Dmeocrats will be in a Merkel-Westerwelle government by October. The disaffection from the Social Democrats in Nordrhein-Westfalen was not that they weren't left enough, because the clearest winner in the election was the Christian Democrats. The conservatives and liberals are very likely to be the winners this autumn in Germany, and a far-left alliance is likely to help undergird that impending victory.

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