The Left Party (Die Linke) is the result of a merger in 2007 of the PDS, the successor to the communist ruling party in former East Germany (GDR) and the West German far-left WASG.
The Left Party's voter base is traditionally East German, working class and elderly - although the party also attracts disgruntled SPD members. They campaign against welfare cuts, but for minimum wage and strict controls of the banking sector. They are the only German party demanding an immediate withdrawal of German troops from missions abroad and a dissolution of NATO. With 64 seats of 631 after the 2013 general election, the Left are Germany's third-largest party, and the most powerful force in opposition. This page collates recent DW content pertaining to the party.
Winning Germany's most populous state - the last to vote before September's general election - could provide key momentum. And there are many other reasons why parties want a strong showing in North Rhine-Westphalia.