Germany's Left party chief sets out coalition position

22nd June 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Left party is currently polling between eight and 11 percent, and Lafontaine blamed the SPD, led by Foreign Minister and Chancellor-hopeful Frank-Walter Steinmeier, for a refusal to countenance coalition discussions.

Berlin -- The head of Germany's Left party on Saturday urged delegates at its annual conference to be courageous going into September elections, amid internal squabbling over coalition prospects.

"It's only by battling courageously side-by-side that we can win," Oskar Lafontaine told his Die Linke party audience as its fundamentalist wing clashes with gradualists ready to compromise for a deal with the Social Democrats (SPD).

The Left party is currently polling between eight and 11 percent, and Lafontaine blamed the SPD, led by Foreign Minister and Chancellor-hopeful Frank-Walter Steinmeier, for a refusal to countenance coalition discussions.

Seeking a majority for left-wing parties in the national German parliament, he said it was a "stupid" position for his rivals to adopt.

A former finance minister when in the SPD, Lafontaine outlined manifesto goals based on redistribution of wealth including a hike to 10 euros (14 dollars) per hour for the minimum national wage, a 33 percent rise.

He also wants taxes slashed for the poorest and the introduction of new taxes for the super-rich which he claimed would raise "90 billion euros per year," as well as shares for workers in businesses bailed out by the state.

He said landowners, speculators and those who had profited from financial capitalism in recent boom years should pay for the effects of the economic crisis, which has pushed Germany, Europe's largest economy, into recession.

Also on his party wishlist was the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan and the dissolution of the western military alliance, NATO.

AFP/Expatica

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