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Germany

SPD Threatens to Bar New Leftist Party Supporters

Germany's ruling Social Democrat Party (SPD) has moved to bar six of its members who openly called for the founding of a new, leftist party. The head of the SPD, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, said that the party could not tolerate members who wanted to leave the SPD in order to form a competing party. For months, the left-wing within the SPD has criticized Schröder's reform policy, saying that the party has moved too far to the center, and no longer represents the working class. Two groups have emerged to challenge the SPD's dominance of the political left. On March 5, a group of 30 union representatives and members of the SPD, Greens, and the Party of Democratic Socialism banded together to form the "Election Alternative." Additionally, Die Welt newspaper reported that a trades union coalition including two board members of the engineering union IG Metall also want to form a new party. Franz Müntefering, slated to take over the SPD chairmanship from Schröder, said that anyone in the SPD who supports a left-wing offshoot will "rule themselves out of the party."