Risen from the ashes of the PDS (which itself rose from the ashes of the SED, the East German Communist Party), German's year-old Left Party (Die Linke), led by former Social Democrat Oskar Lafontaine, is surging according to recent polls. Despite the party's numerous ties to the Honecker dictatorship and its brutal secret police (Left Party grandee Gregor Gysi attempted, according to Deutsche Welle, to "prevent journalists getting their hands on sensitive former Stasi files" and was recently and rather predictably exposed as an informant), the party is exerting significant influence over Chancellor Merkel's "grand coalition." From Deutsche Welle:
[The Left Party] boasts an estimated 73,500 members Germany-wide and, with 10 to 14 percent of the national vote, is the country's third largest party next to the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
"We are being hailed as the most successful new party in decades and they say we are setting the political agenda in Germany," Lafontaine told some 600 supporters at the party's first national convention, over the weekend, in the eastern town of Cottbus.
And hot on the heals of controversy concerning Gysi's ties to the Stasi comes MEP and Left Party member Sahra Wagenknecht's ties to the radical group Die Kommunistische Plattform, which doesn't seem to have had any effect on the party's popularity:
Ahead of the Cottbus convention, Left member Sahra Wagenknecht was forced to drop her candidacy for deputy party leader because of her involvement in the Communist Platform, an organization that advocates the overthrow of capitalism and is monitored by Germany's intelligence apparatus.
Wagenknecht, a self-identified communist, previously made headlines when she was photographed in Strasbourg restaurant dining on a plate of bourgeois lobster. After realizing her doctrinal mistake, Wagenknecht ordered her assistant to requisition the grain, errr, camera from her Left Party colleague in order "take photographs with an acquaintance." When she returned the camera, the photos had been erased. The lobster-eating commissar had vanished.