Oscar Lafontaine resigns from the Left Party

Saarbrücken.The co-founder and former head of the Left Party, Oscar Lafontaine, left the party. The 78-year-old made the announcement on Thursday in Saarbrücken.

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I wanted there to be a left-wing alternative to the politics of social insecurity and inequality on the political spectrum, which is why I co-founded the Left Party. “The left today has abandoned that claim,” said La Fontaine.

The background is the “gradual change in the political image of the left” since 2015, La Fontaine wrote in a 44-line statement. It has become a party in which the interests of employees, retirees, a foreign policy based on international law and peace are no longer in focus. In addition, the party supports a fraud system set up in Saarland upon acquiring members – which it can no longer support.

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It’s the 78-year-old’s amazing second break with a party. A kind of déjà vu reminiscent of March 11, 1999. Lafontaine, then Federalist Party Chairman and Minister of Finance, threw his positions at the bewildered SPD leadership in a row over looming social cuts in the red-green federal government, which later led to the 2010 Agenda The SPD shuddered. He left the party in 2005.

The exit was not a surprise

Unlike the break in 1999, Lafontaine’s departure from the left was not a real surprise. Everyone who knows him knows that he struggled with the step. But for months, he hasn’t hidden his anger at the party – particularly in Saarland, where he has always achieved double-digit results and led the left-wing faction in the state parliament since 2009. Now – without an “Oscar” – the party is wary of returning to Parliament in the 27 state elections. March.

Saar’s party, now at odds, split between the Parliamentary Group and the Federation of State – and a number of fellow activists turned their backs on the party before La Fontaine. With La Fontaine’s resignation, the party’s expulsion proceedings against him were also settled. This was done because he repeatedly criticized the “fraud system” set up by the party leadership, allegedly in order to be able to allocate mandates via manipulated member lists.

La Fontaine is married to Sahra Wagenknecht, a left-wing member of the Bundestag. When Wagenknecht was asked on Thursday, she did not want to comment on her husband’s withdrawal from the party.

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Farewell to the state parliament in Saarbrucken

On Wednesday, Lafontaine invited the state parliament with words of thanks. After all, he was a member of the state parliament with 31-year breaks. This marked the end of a good 50 years of active politics for him. He was just about everything you could be in German political life: Lord Mayor of Saarbrücken, SPD Head of State, Prime Minister of Saarland (1985-1998), SPD Chancellor Candidate (1990), DUP President, Federal Finance Minister Co-founder of the Left Party and leader of their party and parliamentary group in the Bundestag.

When State Parliament Speaker Stephane Toscani (CDU) recognized his advantages, La Fontaine had already written his exit manifesto. He went on to explain, “According to the social file, the principles of peace politics must now also be removed from the left.”

“I’ve always wanted to do something for people who don’t do a good job,” La Fontaine previously said. He explained the establishment of Die Linke “to reflect cuts in social services and wage cuts in the 2010 agenda.” In addition, “after Germany’s participation in the war in Yugoslavia violating international law, and in the war in Afghanistan, a new force must appear” for peace and disarmament.

“Maybe I could have achieved more if I had stayed in the SPD.”

At first there were electoral successes, but with the change of course many employees and pensioners refused, rejoined the SPD, became non-voters or voted for the AfD, Lafontaine wrote. After the defeat in the federal election in the fall of 2021, this can no longer be overlooked: “The party is no longer represented by ordinary and low-income earners or even pensioners.”

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Whether the split from the SPD was a mistake at the time, he “cannot answer today either,” he told dpa at the end of February. “Maybe if I had stayed in the SPD I could have achieved more. You can hardly judge that in hindsight. I still describe myself as Willie Brandt-era social democrats – with two pillars of welfare state expansion and a peaceful foreign policy.” He added: “You always commit Mistakes in political life. Yes, I would do a few things differently in hindsight. But what happened cannot be undone.”

RND / dpa

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