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The Left Party in Germany is a successor to the former ruling party of the GDR, the Socialist United Party, the SED. Hence, it deserves attention.

Party of Democratic Socialism , Wikipedia

was a democratic socialist political party in Germany active between 1989 and 2007.[2] It was the legal successor to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), which ruled the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) as a one-party stateuntil 1990.[3] From 1990 through to 2005, the PDS had been seen as the left-wing "party of the East". While it achieved minimal support in western Germany, it regularly won 15% to 25% of the vote in the eastern new states of Germany

In 2005, the PDS, renamed The Left Party.PDS (Die Linkspartei.PDS), entered an electoral alliance with the western Germany-based Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice (WASG) and won 8.7% of the vote in Germany's September 2005 federal elections (more than double the 4% share achieved by the PDS alone in the2002 federal election). On 16 June 2007, the two groupings merged to form a new party called The Left (Die Linke).[5]

Internationally, the Left Party.PDS was a co-founder of the Party of the European Left and was the largest party in the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European Parliament.

During the second session of the SED's final party conference on 16 December 1989 the party accepted a proposal from Gregor Gysi that the party adopt a new name, "Party of Democratic Socialism", to distance the reformed party from its communist past. The proposal came directly after a speech from Michael Schumann highlighting the injustices perpetrated under the SED, and distancing the conference from certain high profile party leaders - notably Erich Honeckerand Egon Krenz. Above all Schumann's speech opened the way for the party to reinvent itself, using a phrase that was later much quoted: "We break irrevocably with Stalinism as a system!",[10][11] A brief transitional period as the SED/PDS followed. By the end of 1989, the last hardline members of the party's Central Committee had either resigned or been pushed out, followed in 1990 by 95% of the SED's 2.3 million members

The PDS faced the voters for the first time in the 1990 East German elections—the first and only free elections held in East Germany. The party was roundly defeated, winning only 66 seats in the 400-seat Volkskammer, finishing a distant third behind the East German wings of the Christian Democratic Union and the recently refounded Social Democratic Party

Political responsibility has burnished the Left's reputation as a pragmatic, rather than ideological party. It remained strong in local government in eastern Germany, with more than 6,500 town councillors and 64 elected mayors.[when?] The party continued to win eastern voters by emphasizing political competence and refused to be labelled as merely a "protest party", although it certainly attracted millions of protest voters in the federal election,[which?] profiting from growing dissatisfaction with high unemployment and cutbacks in public health insurance, unemployment benefits, and labour rights. - Strong protest movement exists in Germany.

Gysi's resignation in 2000 after losing a policy debate with party leftists soon spelled trouble for the PDS.

low membership and voter support in Germany's western states continued to plague the party on the federal level until it formed an electoral alliance in July 2005 with the Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice (WASG), a leftist faction of dissident Social Democrats and trade unionists, with the merged list being called the Left Party. In the 2005 federal election the Left Party received 8.7% of the nationwide vote and won 54 seats in the German Bundestag

 alarmed by the Left's unexpected rise in the polls, Germany's mainstream politicians hit back at Lafontaine and Gysi as "left populists" and "demagogues" and accused the party of flirting with neo-Nazi voters. A gaffe by Lafontaine, who described "foreign workers" as a threat in one speech early in the campaign, provided ammunition for charges that the Left was attempting to exploit German xenophobia

Exit polls (in 2005) showed the Left had a unique appeal to non-voters: 390,000 Germans who refused to support any party in 2002 returned to the ballot box to vote for the Left Party. The Left's image as the last line of defense for Germany's traditional "social state" (Sozialstaat) proved to be a magnet for voters in western as well as eastern Germany.

FRGElections

Election results, 1994-2005, FRG

Shortly after the 2005 federal election, Marianne Birthler, the official in charge of the Stasi archives, accused the Left Party of harboring at least seven former Stasi informants in its newly elected parliamentary group.
[14] At about the same time, the media revealed that Lutz Heilmann, a Left Party Bundestag deputy from the state of Schleswig-Holstein, had worked several years for the Stasi.[15] While the first accusation proved to be false, Heilmann's connection with the Stasi remained controversial. Though Heilmann had served as a bodyguard, not as an informant or secret police officer, he violated a Left Party regulation obliging candidates to reveal past Stasi involvement.

Charges of a Stasi past were also a factor in the Bundestag's decision to reject Lothar Bisky as the Left Party's candidate for the post of parliamentary vice president. 

In the Free State of Saxony, the chairman of the Left Party group, Peter Porsch, could lose his mandate in the Saxon parliament because of his alleged Stasi past. 

Научным центром при ПДС (Партии Дем. Социализма) являлся Фонд Розы Люксембург.

"Party of Democratic Socialism", 1995

The communist party that ran East Germany was the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands--SED). Founded in 1946, the SED controlled the government and the electoral process and supervised the omnipresent State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst--Stasi). To be considered for important positions in East German government and society, membership in the party was a requirement

When the East German public toppled the communist regime, the SED and its extensive organizational structure also came unraveled. Membership fell dramatically; local and regional party groups disbanded. In a desperate attempt to save itself, the SED sought to reconstruct itself for the new democratic climate. It changed its name in February 1990 to the Party of Democratic Socialism (Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus--PDS). The old party guard was replaced by moderate leaders, such as the new chairman, Gregor Gysi. The PDS won 11 percent of the vote in eastern Germany in the 1990 all-Germany election, an outcome that entitled the party to seventeen seats in the Bundestag. In the Bundestag, the PDS has advocated communist values and has energetically criticized the Kohl government. The PDS's all-Germany tally reached only 2.4 percent because of a showing in western Germany of 0.3 percent - Hence, the party didn't disappear...

 In mid-1995 the PDS had roughly 130,000 members in the east, giving the PDS the largest membership of any party in eastern Germany. The party's strongholds are Saxony, Berlin, and Brandenburg. The party continues to have a tiny following in the west, with 1,200 members.

Over 90 percent of PDS members belonged to the SED, and 66 percent are over the age of sixty. The established parties have largely ostracized the PDS The PDS garnered 4.4 percent of the vote in the 1994 national election, an outcome that, as predicted, left the party beneath the 5 percent hurdle. However, the party won parliamentary representation, thanks to a peculariarity of the German electoral law: the fact that the PDS won four districts outright (all in eastern Berlin) entitled it to thirty seats in the Bundestag. Much credit for the strong showing of the PDS in the east has been given to the party's leading figure, the lawyer Gysi, an articulate and charismatic member of parliament


"The Left" , Wikipedia

The party is the most left-wing party of the four represented in the Bundestag, and has been called far-left by German government authorities and different international media.[7][8][9] Some of its internal factions are under observation by some states' or the federal Verfassungsschutz (constitutional protection) authorities on account of suspected extremist tendencies.[13] In Bavaria, the entire party is under surveillance.[14]

According to official party figures, the Left Party had 63,784 registered members as of December 2013,[15] making it the fourth-largest party in Germany.[16]

Forms coalitions with the Social Democrats and the Greens

The Left includes many different factions, ranging from communists to social democrats. In March 2007, during the joint party convention of Left Party and WASG, a document outlining political principles was agreed on. The official program of the party was decided upon by an overwhelming majority at the party conference in October 2011 in Erfurt, Thuringia.

The party's fiscal policies are based on Keynesian economics

The Left calls for international disarmament, while ruling out any form of involvement of the Bundeswehr outside of Germany. The party calls for a replacement of NATO with a collective security system including Russia as a member country

The party has a mixed stance towards the recent Ukraine crisis. Gregor Gysi has described Russia as "state capitalist", and the party has called Russia annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine "illegal". However, Gysi has noted that "older" elements of the party have a strong penchant for Russia and the Soviet Union.[34] The party declared in May 2014 that Ukraine shouldn't receive any kind of support from Germany as long as it is ruled by "fascists".[35]A number of party members have been very supportive of Russian interests, and deputies of the party supported and observed the referendum held by the pro-Russian groups in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

"Левая" партия в Германии

The 2007 report cites as evidence of the party's "extremism" Lothar Bisky's June 2007 statement thatdemocratic socialism remains the party's goal: "We also still discuss the change of property and power relations [...]. We question the system." However, the report notes that in practice the parliamentary party appears as to act as a "reform-oriented" left force. In addition, the report cites "openly extremist groupings" within the party, notably the Marxist–Leninist Communist Platform, which in Sahra Wagenknecht has a representative on the 44-member Left Party executive.[40] «Левые» приветствуют процесс европейской интеграции, выступают против всех форм подъёма милитаризма и за усиление роли Организации Объединённых Наций в международной политике.



"Spiegel" on the Left , 2007

 it provides a home for former communists from Eastern Germany, idealistic socialists from Western Germany -- and a whole slew of former Social Democratic Party (SPD) members disgusted by their party's lurch to the center

(This looks like a new edition of "Independent Social Democrats" of 1917, hence, a comedy.)

Lafontaine
Lafontaine, of course, is that he used to be one of the party's darlings. In 1990, he was the SPD's candidate for chancellor, losing out to Helmut Kohl in the wake of reunification. In 1995, he became SPD chairman and three years later was appointed finance minister in Schröder's first government. But in 1999, Lafontaine abruptly resigned from all political and party offices and since then has devoted his career to being a populist thorn in the SPD's side -- and a vocal critic of former friend Schröder.

The new Left Party now sees itself as representing Germany's workers and union members -- the very group that once formed the leftist core of SPD voters.

The Left Party would like to see Germany pull out of Afghanistan immediately and has even accused German soldiers of taking part in "terrorist acts" in the country.

Fully 40,000 of the Left Party's 72,000 members were previously members of East Germany's Communist Party, the SED. The party leadership has likewise praised Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for his efforts to renationalize finance and energy companies, despite his recent crackdowns on freedom of the press.

Opinion polls indicate that the Left Party could eventually attract up to 24 percent of Germany's electorate -- and as many as 44 percent of voters living in the states of the former East Germany

"Historic Significance of the New German Left Party"

“There are centuries in which nothing happens, and weeks in which decades happen” (Lenin)

"Dissidence and terrorist activity"

In 70's, 80's - RAF, and other left-wing

In April 1991, Detlev Rohwedder, the director of the Treuhandanstalt (Trust Agency), the mammoth agency charged with privatizing East German state enterprises, was murdered by terrorists with connections to the Stasi.

In 1990's, 2000's - neo-Nazis.

 In both the eastern and western parts of Germany, outbreaks of violence were sparked by the growth of racial and ethnic intolerance. The federal police reported 2,285 acts of rightist violence in 1992, a sevenfold increase over the number reported in 1990. Seventeen deaths resulted. The greatest number of perpetrators were youths under the age of twenty. The police count of known right-wing extremists, estimated at some 40,000 in the early 1990s, slightly exceeded the estimated number of left-wing extremists. Some 6,400 of these extreme right-wingers were considered prone to violence. Their attacks were directed against asylum-seekers, migrants from Eastern Europe, nonwhites, and in some cases homosexuals, prostitutes, and members of the former Soviet armed forces. Some of the most serious outrages, such as street assaults and firebombings of hostels for foreigners, occurred in gritty eastern industrial centers--Rostock, Chemnitz, Cottbus, and Leipzig. 



"Fringe Power"

SW

Sahra Wagenknecht is one of the Left Party's two lead candidates, along with Gregor Gysi, for this year's election. The party has been trying to keep the pair's distrust of each other under wraps during the campaign -- with limited success. They almost never appear at events together.

GG

G. Gysi

(The Left party) also continues to suffer from an ongoing power struggle between its co-leaders, Sahra Wagenknecht and Gregor Gysi -- one which mirrors the party's own east-west split. - this antagonism is a reflection of the general split of the German society into "West" and "East".
SW hit by cake

Sarah W. was hit by a cake at a party conference

the party has stumbled recently over the five percent hurdle in several state elections in western Germany -- 
most recently last Sunday in Bavaria, where it received but 2.1 percent of the vote. 

 In all five eastern German states, the party enjoys support ranging between 14 percent in Berlin and Saxony to 22 percent in Saxony-Anhalt, where the party is stronger than the SPD. - this, we see different political orientation in West and East Germany

The Left is radically pacifist, opposed to any German involvement in overseas crises and demands that Berlin withdraw from NATO and the alliance be dissolved.

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