Germany’s “Left” lost one of Europe’s most charismatic leaders.
By, Uwe Paschen.
Oskar Lanfontaine, the man who was called “Europe’s most dangerous man.” by the UK and US media left politics. Mr. Lafontaine announced Saturday that he was resigning both from his post as party chief and from Parliament because of his health. At 66, he is today probably one of the most charismatic politicians Europe has known since WWII.
Lafontaine is a German politician, former German finance minister, former chairman of the Social Democratic Party and former prime minister of the state of Saarland. Since 2007, he was co-chairman of The Left.
Lafontaine rose to prominence locally as mayor of Saarbrücken and became more widely known as a critic of chancellor Helmut Schmidt's support for the NATO plan to deploy Pershing II missiles in Germany.
As a candidate in the German federal election of 1990, where he ran for the Chancellor position, this was just following the reunification of Germany; a mentally deranged woman attacked him with a knife after a speech in Cologne. His carotid artery was slashed and he remained in a critical condition for several days.
This did not last to long though; he disagreed with the much needed labor reforms and ended up quitting his post as well as the party. He latter joined the Left or also called “Party of Democratic Socialism”, wish is the legal successor to the Socialist Unity Party (SED).
His break form the Social Democratic Party (SPD) caused a split in the left in Germany, wish lost them the last election to the CDU, CSU and Germany's FDP.
His strong believe for social justice and demilitarisation made him many allies especially in former East Germany. As he stated on several occasions that "Financial capitalism has failed. We need to democratise the economy. The workforce needs to have a far greater say in their companies than has been the case so far." His charisma and political believes allowed the “left” to gain strong support at the expense of the more centre leaning SPD. This forced to SPD after the loss of the last election to revisit its roots of Social Democratic Ideal and Pacifism as Willy Brandt incorporated them once for the SPD.
Lafontaine's retirement from politics, does leave a great vacuum in European politics but it does also leaves the doors wide open for the left to reunite into one party, wish would put the ruling Right wing coalition into great trouble since the combined vote of all left parties would give them a strong advantage and secure them a winning position in the next elections.
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