Thursday, January 24, 2008

Left Party rattles the German mainstream parties

As the Left Party looks to make a historical breakthrough in the Western German state of Hesse, the mainstream parties - particularly the SPD, are looking to exclude them at all costs. This, one of four states being contested this year, is significant because it would be the first time the Left Party has broken through in the West of Germany. The party polls in double digits nationally, with up to 30% in the East and between 6-10% in the West, and may well be able to carry this through into the Bundestag elections next year. In the last elections in 2005, it won 8.7% of the vote and 54 seats, polling particularly strongly in Berlin, Saxony, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt, all in the East. Making it in the West would make it plain that they're here to stay. The SPD, currently in a national coalition with the CDU, says it would rather ally with the right-wing Free Democrats than form any coalition with the Left Party, which is the main national opponent of the 'Agenda 2010' reforms introduced by Schroeder and backed by Merkel. That's what happens when you challenge neoliberalism - the mainstream parties know that they share far more than they let on, and will do anything to avoid a serious challenge to that consensus.