Former Communists from East Germany set to return to power

Days before Germany is set to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the way has been cleared for the former communists who ruled East Germany to return to power.

The Left Party, widely seen as the successor to the SED, East Germany’s communist party, is expected to head the government of a German state for the first time since reunification, after the Social Democrats voted to enter a coalition with them in the state of Thuringia.

Many of the Left Party’s leadership were senior figures in the old SED, which ruled East Germany as a single-party state. And the prospect of the party’s return to power has caused alarm in some quarters.

The German President, Joachim Gauck, abandoned the role’s traditional political neutrality to speak out against it.

“People of my age who lived through the GDR [communist East Germany] find it quite hard to accept this,” he said, and questioned whether the Left Party “has really distanced itself from the ideas the SED once had about repression of people, so that we can fully trust it”.

Angela Merkel, who grew up in the GDR, has said a government headed by the Left Party would be “bad news” for Thuringia.

The move is seen as a message from the Social Democrats to Mrs Merkel that it has other options in the long-term.

If the expected coalition goes ahead, Bodo Ramelow will become the Left Party’s first state prime minister.

Mr Ramelow, who grew up in West Germany, does not have any links to the East German SED. But the fact that many others in his party do has brought Germany’s dark past back into the limelight, with some in the Left Party resisting calls to acknowledge that East Germany was a “rogue state”.

“Of course the GDR was a rogue state,” Mrs Merkel has commented. “A Stasi state has repeatedly trampled human freedom underfoot. What should we call such a state?”

Full article: Former Communists from East Germany set to return to power (The Telgraph)

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