German Left party endorses euro, slams austerity measures | News | DW | 15.06.2013
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German Left party endorses euro, slams austerity measures

Left party candidates for Germany's election in September have endorsed the euro currency. New co-leader Katja Kipping and veteran Gregor Gysi distanced themselves from the euroskeptic ex-leader Oskar Lafontaine.

The new leadership of Germany's socialist Left called for retention of the common currency at their pre-election party conference in Dresden on Saturday, while warning that austerity cuts had left Europe socially fragile.

Kipping, who together with Bernd Riexinger heads a Left party reorganized since a fractious conference last year, contradicted Lafontaine. He recently described the euro as a "faulty design" and suggested that eurozone countries, such as Greece, should be given to the option to return to their national currencies.

But, Kipping told 500 delegates, "the Left is not for an exit from the euro,"

"We don't want a return to the deutschmark," she said.

Social welfare cuts across the European Union "don't lead us out of the crisis, but instead into [the crisis]," she added.

Austerity the 'real danger'

Kipping said the "real danger for the euro" lay in the austerity and social welfare cuts propagated in troubled eurozone nations by international lenders and Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right government.

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Germany's Left party presents unified front

Gysi, who is the party's floor leader in the federal Bundestag parliament, said if the euro falls apart then it would be Merkel's policies to blame.

Ahead of conference votes on Left election policy, Kipping said her party wanted higher taxes on Germany's millionaires, a minimum working wage starting at 10 euros ($13) per hour and rising to 12 euros, a minimum pension of 1,050 euros, and the reversal of Germany's nominal retirement age from 67 to 65.

Gysi chides SPD, Greens

Gysi accused Germany's two other main opposition parties, the Social Democrats and ecologist Greens, of being ambivalent toward social welfare.

"Here the SPD and the Greens have to move, and hugely," Gysi said, demanding that the parties apologize for social welfare changes they introduced when they were last in government.

Riexinger on Friday said the Left's key goal was a redistribution of income from "above to below."

Anti-militarism

Kipping on Saturday also reiterated the Left's call for an end to exports of German military equipment and a halt to deployments abroad by the armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

In an urgent resolution, Left party delegates called for an international ban on the military use of drone aircraft and the closure of the US military's Africa Command in Stuttgart.

German media recently reported that remote-controlled drone airstrikes in Somalia were carried out using facilities at US bases in Germany.

Gysi goal: 10 percent

Gysi set 10 percent as the Left's goal for the federal election on September 22. At Germany's last election in 2009 the Left got 11.9 percent. Currently, the party polls between 6 and 9 percent in surveys.

The SPD and Greens have repeatedly rejected coalition overtures from the Left party.

ipj/dr (dpa, AFP)

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