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Germany

Germany's Left Party Expels Politician Over Stasi Remarks

Germany's Left party has thrown out one of its regional deputies who sparked outrage by arguing for the return of East Germany's notorious secret police, the Stasi as well as the Berlin Wall.

Stasi files

The Stasi, former East Germany's secret police, kept secret files on thousands of citizens

Christel Wegner has been expelled from the Left party's parliamentary group in Lower Saxony after winning a seat in the state's parliament last month, the party said on Monday.

In a statement, the party said the views she expressed in an interview with TV station ARD last week were "unacceptable."

"We can never again have a socialism without the rule of law, democracy and freedom to travel," the party said.

Christel Wegner

Christel Wegner kicked up a storm with her comments

Wegner, 60, a member of the German Communist Party (DKP) and a parliamentary representative of the Left party in Lower Saxony, came under fire from all sides last week after advocating the return of former East Germany's dreaded secret police.

"I think that if a new society was created, we would need such an organization [like the Stasi] again, because we would have to protect ourselves against reactionary forces trying to weaken the state from within," she said on Thursday in an interview with Germany's ARD television broadcaster.

She also said that the Berlin Wall, which divided the city from 1961 to 1989, needed to be built in order to protect the East German economy from West Germans who wanted to cross the border to buy cheap goods.

Left condemns GDR practices

The Left party, a new alliance comprised mainly of ex-communists and disaffected former Social Democrats, quickly moved to disapprove of Wegner, who was elected to Lower Saxony's parliament last month on the party's platform.

"We reject all forms of dictatorship and condemn Stalinism as a criminal abuse of socialism," said the party in a statement.

Gregor Gysi, party chair in the federal parliament, criticized the state party organizations that put candidates from the Communist Party on their election tickets.

"We're not going back to the GDR," he added, referring to former communist East Germany, known as the German Democratic Republic.

Wegner urged to step down

Members of Germany's center and conservative parties were quick to pass judgment on the Left party, with some calling for Wegner's resignation.

"The first Left party parliamentarians are letting their masks fall after the state elections," said David McAllister, the Christian Democrat's party chief in Lower Saxony, who also appealed to Wegner to step down.

"Now the Left party has shown its true face," commented Philipp Roesler, head of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Lower Saxony.

Founded in 2007 by former German Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, the Left is seen as a rising political force and a potential threat to the center-left Social Democratic Party. In the state elections on Jan. 27, it entered Lower Saxony's parliament for the first time with 7.1 percent of the vote and six seats.

Building of the Berlin Wall in 1961

The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 after many had fled West

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