Germany’s left in crisis as voters leave in their DROVES for populist parties

Friday, October 27, 2017
By Paul Martin

GERMANY’S left-wing parties are facing a major crisis as increasing numbers of voters are turning towards more populist groups after growing tired of liberal immigration policies and a lack of proper leadership.

Fri, Oct 27, 2017

Of the 709 Bundestag seats, only 289 members of parliament belong to the three traditional left-wing groups and in last month’s general election the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and Die Linke [The Left] won just 38.6 per cent of the vote – the lowest total for more than 50 years.

Amid increasing challenges from the other sides of the Bundestag, Germany’s left-leaning groups have been urged to put aside their rivalries and unite to offer effective opposition to Angela Merkel’s government.

Die Linke co-leader Bernd Riexinger said: “There has been a clear shift to the right. In the old Bundestag there was still a narrow majority for the left.

“The left-wing bloc has never been weaker.”

He added: “We have to get to the point where two parties with different approaches — the SPD with a clear social democratic approach and we as democratic socialists — fight together for the hegemony in our society.

“We need to fight with different programmes but together against the rightwing and conservative camp.”

SPD MP Jens Zimmerman believes the left needs to work out a way to combat the populist policies that have taken Europe by storm.

He said: “The question the left faces in Europe is how we position ourselves at a time when rightwing and nationalist populism in on the rise.

“One additional factor that we have in Germany is that the economic development has been very good. That has papered over some of the social problems we still have.”

Last month, the right-wing AfD became the third-largest party in the German parliament, presenting Mrs Merkel with a new challenge as she won her fourth term as Chancellor – albeit with a diminished authority.

In neighbouring Austria and the Czech Republic, recent elections have been won by right-wing candidates peddling populist policies that are undoubtedly worrying those in Brussels and Berlin.

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