Ex-communists and leftist party to ally in election

10th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 June 2005, BERLIN - An agreement on Friday by the former East German communists and a western German leftist party to run candidates under a joint banner for autumn general elections could give the far-left a boost, latest opinion polls show.

10 June 2005

BERLIN - An agreement on Friday by the former East German communists and a western German leftist party to run candidates under a joint banner for autumn general elections could give the far-left a boost, latest opinion polls show.

Under the deal, the post-communist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the lesser-known Election Alternative for Jobs and Social Justice (WASG) will not formally merge.

"The PDS will continue to exist as a party and the WASG will not be dissolved," said Petra Pau, a PDS member of the German federal parliament, in a ZDF TV interview.

In a statement, the PDS said the agreement still had to be given final approval by the party leadership.

PDS leaders have been wary over creating an alliance given that they have almost 65,000 members and have repeatedly won seats in local and regional elections over the past 15 years.

In contrast, the recently founded WASG has just 5,400 members and failed to win any seats in crucial North Rhine-Westphalia state elections last month where it garnered just 2.2 percent.

The PDS received a big election boost when its popular former leader, Gregor Gysi, announced he would run for the Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament.

Gysi, who has had several heart attacks and brain surgery, left the lower chamber in 2002.

The rebel ex-leader of German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD), Oskar Lafontaine, said on Friday that if a final deal was hammered out between both parties he would run as a candidate for the leftist bloc.

Opinion polls are mixed over the potential for a unified PDS-WASG candidate list.

A Forsa N-TV poll says joining forces would only give the PDS a small boost. Forsa shows the PDS currently winning 7 percent alone and just one percentage point more if teamed up with the WASG.

A ZDF TV poll was more upbeat and said 18 percent of voters could "imagine" voting for the leftist bloc.

Chancellor Schroeder is seeking early elections - expected on 18 September - following his SPD's defeat in North Rhine-Westphalia last month.

All polls show Schroeder's SPD-Greens government badly trailing the opposition Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) and Free Democrats (FDP).

The ZDF poll released on Friday gives Schroeder's SPD-Greens 37 percent, compared with 51 percent for challenger Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU and their smaller FDP ally.

DPA

Subject: German news

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