German leftists become east's leading party

The Linkspartei, or Left Party, was inaugurated in mid-July, but an opinion poll yesterday showed that in the former East Germany the organisation had already outstripped Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's ruling Social Democrats and the opposition conservatives.

The poll, published by the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper, suggested that the Linkspartei would win 33 per cent of the vote in the east compared to 27 per cent each for the SPD and the conservative Christian democrats headed by Angela Merkel, who remains the favourite to win in September.

The Linkspartei, which came into being earlier this year, is a merger between the successor organisation to the former East German Communist Party and renegade former Social Democrats who recently left Mr Schröder's party in protest against its economic reform programme.

Its election campaign front-runners are the former finance minister "Red" Oskar Lafontaine and Gregor Gysi, a leading member of the former reform Communist Party for Democratic Socialism.

Both men enjoy huge popularity in eastern Germany, where they are viewed as champions of the region's 20 per cent unemployed. They favour a return to "social justice" through higher wages for workers and higher taxes for the rich.

The sudden success of the Linkspartei is causing concern to conservatives and Social Democrats. Officials in Mrs Merkel's party have called for a new political offensive which will underline the conservative leader's East German roots. Mr Schröder has reacted by publicly castigating the new Linkspartei and Mr Lafontaine for his use of far right language at campaign rallies. He has categorically ruled out any future alliance with the organisation.

But the party has already managed to add a new element of unpredictability to the German election. There are fears that if the Linkspartei continues to make such gains, neither of Germany's main parties will win enough votes to secure a comfortable majority.

The upshot could be a coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats. Yesterday's poll suggested only 30 per cent of Germans favoured such an outcome.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before