SP welcomes new neighbours in the east

17 June 2007

SP welcomes new neighbours in the east

Since Saturday the SP has found itself with new neighbours. In Berlin, in a celebratory atmosphere, the new party ‘Die Linke’ (The Left) was formally established. The existing 'Linkspartei-PDS', which garners the vast majority of its support in the eastern Lander, merged with the western Lander-based Voters' Alternative for Social Justice (WASG) to form the new grouping. The party had already established a joint parliamentary group in the Bundestag and according to opinion polls is Germany's third party after the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, the parties which currently form the so-called grand coalition government.

Party Secretary Hans van Heijningen and Senate leader Tiny Kox were present to congratulate and welcome the new neighbours on behalf of the SP. The two parties will continue the cooperation already established in, amongst other fora, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Speakers included Gregor Gysi, formerly a leading member of the PDS, and Oscar LaFontaine (ex-president of the social democratic SPD and more recently a moving force behind the WASG), who together with the members of both parties toasted their fusion, which has been several years in the making. For the first time since the establishment of the Federal Republic in 1949, Germany now has a strong political formation to the left of the ruling social democrats. Opinion polls show that the popularity of the new party is growing - ‘Die Linke’ has already outstripped the liberal FDP and the Greens.

Party president Lothar Bisky will shortly visit the Netherlands at the invitation of SP leader Jan Marijnissen. Together with a number of other European party leaders they will discuss how modern socialist parties can learn more from each other and improve their cooperation in order to make their activities more effective. In Berlin the president of ‘Die Linke’ made it clear that he had himself found inspiration in the success of his political neighbours over the Dutch border. In recent years the SP has had repeated contacts with both of Die Linke's founding organisations, sharing their view that it is an important asset to have a like-minded neighbour with whom one can talk and act.

Die Linke :: official site

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