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Germany

Report: CDU Attempts to Brake Rise of Left Party

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats are planning to attempt to halt growing support for the Left party with a campaign against the romanticization of former communist East Germany.

Tourists look at the remembrance crosses for the victims of the Berlin wall on Monday, Aug. 13, 2007 in Berlin.

The CDU aims to stress the inhumanity of East Germany

The party accuses the Left party of playing down the negative aspects of East Germany.

According to Monday's Financial Times Germany (FTD), the CDU leadership has prepared a keynote speech for its party conference in December in which East Germany is described as the "Germany's second dictatorship".

The document cited by the FTD stresses the lack of civil liberties in the German Democratic Republic. It also stresses the desperate economic situation of the state at the time the Wall came down. The country was, according to the CDU paper, on the brink of "economic collapse" in 1989.

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CDU logo

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The document, which is due to be discussed by the party executive over the next few days before being presented to December's party conference, is intended to serve as the basis for the CDU's electoral campaign in national elections in 2009.

The CDU is searching for the right strategy to improve its support in eastern Germany. Recent polls have put the conservatives and the Left party neck-and-neck at 28 percent in the region. The Social Democrats are trailing by several points. The Left has its main support base in the formerly communist eastern states but has also made strong inroads in western states in recent months.

In order to counter any tendencies to play down harmful aspects of the regime in the future, the CDU is also calling for more museums to be set up in former East German Stasi (secret service) prisons and remaining border installations to be placed under preservation orders. It also favors erecting freedom and unity monuments in Leipzig, the center of opposition rallies against the GDR regime, and the German capital Berlin.

The CDU is also planning to use the speech to set out its differences from the Social Democrats, accusing the SPD party leadership of attempting to block reunification.

Recent years have seen a growing tendency in eastern Germany -- both culturally and socio-politically -- towards "ostalgie," a German expression made up of the words Ost (East) and "nostalgia". Studies have also indicated an alarming lack of knowledge about the former communist regime among German schoolchildren.

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