Germany's SPD to talk to The Left in major political shift

4th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Leader of the SPD has to change positions.

Berlin -- The leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) in the state of Hesse signaled a significant shift in German politics Tuesday by saying she would hold talks with the Left Party on forming a government at state level.

Six weeks after inconclusive elections in the western state, Andrea Ypsilanti said that her preferred combination of the SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP had foundered on opposition from the FDP.

Ypsilanti, who positions herself on the left wing of the SPD, indicated she would accept being voted into office as premier with the help of the six Left Party members of the new legislature.

She acknowledged that this was in conflict with her pre-election position. "It could happen that I cannot stick to an election promise... Believe me, this is not easy for me," she said.

Ypsilanti and SPD national head Kurt Beck pledged ahead of the Jan. 27 poll that they would not enter into any agreement with the Left, a party that draws most of its support in the formerly communist eastern states.

The SPD emerged from the January 27 elections with 36.7 percent of the vote, behind Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) on 36.8 percent. Both parties have 42 seats in the 110-seat legislature.

The FDP, the potential CDU coalition partner, has 11 seats, and the Greens, the SPD's preferred partner, have 9. The Left, with six seats, holds the balance.

The SPD has previously avoided all contact in the western states with the Left, which many Germans see as a party of unreconstructed communists in the east and fringe leftists in the west.

In the eastern states, where the Left is the largest party with estimated support of around 30 percent, the SPD has entered into a coalition with the party in the city-state of Berlin.

The opening up to the Left, initiated late last month by Beck, has caused a rift in the party, Germany's oldest political formation with strong links to the trade union movement.

Merkel and other CDU leaders have openly accused Beck and Ypsilanti of breaking their pre-election promises.

Ypsilanti aims to have herself elected premier by the state legislature with the party's support in a secret ballot on April 5.

Left Party leader in the federal parliament, Gregor Gysi, pledged the full support of the party for Ypsilanti in the vote. "I give her a guarantee for the six votes that she needs," he said.

But observers did not rule out the possibility that SPD members opposed to the deal might use the secrecy of the ballot to scupper Ypsilanti's plans by abstaining.

Ypsilanti said Tuesday she would seek shifting majorities with the FDP and the CDU to push through educational reforms and an energy policy based on renewable resources for the state, which includes the financial center of Frankfurt.

Analysts believe she could seek an early election after making her policy aims clear.

DPA with Expatica

0 Comments To This Article