Three left-leaning parties have signed a coalition agreement in the German state of Thuringia, giving Germany its first socialist-led state government in 25 years. But a slim majority could pose problems.
The German Left Party on Thursday signed an unprecedented coalition agreement in the state of Thuringia with the Social Democrats (SPD) and environmentalist Greens, paving the way for the first-ever socialist-led state government in Germany since the Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago.
On Friday, the state parliament is expected to elect Left Party leader Bodo Ramelow (seen 3rd from left above) as premier, despite the so-called "red-red-green" coalition's having just a one-seat parliamentary majority.
The coalition will bring to an end the uninterrupted dominance of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in the state since Germany's reunification in 1990.
Concerns about the past
September's election saw the CDU emerge as the largest political force in the state parliament with a third of the vote, but the party was unable to find partners for a viable coalition.
The Left Party, which came second with some 28 percent, managed to woo the SPD and the Greens to help it gain its slight majority, with Ramelow, a former trade unionist from western Germany, nominated to head the government.
Critics of the Left Party say it has failed to make a complete break with the communist regime in former East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR), which many saw as highly repressive. Most Left Party supporters in Thuringia, whose average age is 66, grew up in the GDR, which ended shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The leaders of the two other parties in the coalition, Dieter Lauinger (Greens) and Andreas Bausewein (SPD) insisted on Thursday that the new government would provide "stability" despite its tenuous parliamentary voting power.
The Thuringian coalition says it plans to provide one year of free kindergarten for every child and to focus on renewable energy sources. It also wants to put more money into education, including hiring more teachers, and run a debt-free budget.