On May 15, the far-left German party Die Linke held its national congress in the eastern city of Rostock, electing a new national leadership and debating a new draft program.
At the conference, charismatic and popular left-wing firebrand – and renegade Social Democrat – Oskar Lafontaine, 66, stepped down as the party’s co-leader due to health reasons after a cancer operation.
Lafontaine helped co-found Die Linke, formed in 2007 from a merger of the Electoral Alternative for Jobs and Social Justice (WASG – an amalgam of disgruntled Social Democrats, militant unionists and various left groups and individuals) and the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS – the successor to the old East German ruling party). Party co-leader and East German moderate Lothar Bisky, 68, a former leader of the PDS, also stepped aside.
While both men were instrumental in the merger that created Die Linke, they represent widely differing views in the new party.