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Cablegate: Die Linke Are Here to Stay

VZCZCXRO1337
RR RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHAG #0065 3121117
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081117Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL HAMBURG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0187
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0172
RUEHAG/AMCONSUL HAMBURG 0207

UNCLAS HAMBURG 000065

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV GM
SUBJECT: DIE LINKE ARE HERE TO STAY

REF: HAMBURG 035

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 6, EUR/AGS Deputy Director Bryant
Trick and ConGen Hamburg Pol/Econ Officer Genevieve Libonati met
with state party leadership from both the leftist Die Linke
party and the Green party in Bremen. Die Linke is optimistic
about its growth prospects; Greens leaders concurred. End
Summary.

The Left Party: Bremen Not a Fluke
-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Die Linke Bremen Director Andreas Hein and Deputy
Chair of the Bremen Party Board Michael Lassowski discussed the
party's continued growth in Bremen, noting that local membership
has grown to approximately 450 people -- a 90 member increase
over the past year. They lamented, however, that only about 25
percent of their members are under 30 and that the majority of
party members were men, thus making it difficult to reach their
50 percent quota for women in party leadership positions.

3. (SBU) Lassowski predicted that after the 2009 elections Die
Linke would have a strong enough presence in "Western" states to
form governing coalitions and implied that the party stood
excellent chances in Saarland, National Party Chairman Oskar
Lafontaine's home state. Both Hein and Lassowski expected the
party to enter the Hamburg and Hessen state parliaments in 2008.
However, Hein asserted that the party needs to obtain more
political experience before becoming a coalition partner. He
stated that Die Linke wanted to avoid being exploited by its
coalition partners, as had occurred between the PDS and SPD
during the first years of the Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
coalitions. Hein maintained that "East German" PDS party
leadership has been sharing best practices with "Western" party
members. Hein and Lassowski predicted the SPD would end its
rejection of coalitions with the Linke in Western states or at
the federal level within four years.

4. (SBU) Locally, Hein explained that the party's key goals in
Bremen now that they were in parliament were to pass a strong
minimum wage and protect benefits for the unemployed. Hein and
Lassowski emphasized the party's firm opposition to foreign
deployments of the Bundeswehr, but also said Die Linke "is a
peace party, but not a pacifist party," clarifying that the
party could support Bundeswehr involvement in traditional UN
blue helmet peacekeeping missions, as long as the deployment did
not include any combat operations..

The Greens: Ready to Govern Again
--------------------------------------------

5. (U) In a conversation with Greens Bremen Caucus Leader
Matthias Gueldner and Party Director Felix Holefleisch about
climate change, the economy, and foreign policy, the party
leaders criticized the party's indecisiveness about the
deployment of German troops in Afghanistan.

6. (SBU) Gueldner agreed that the German political system is
developing into a five-party system and that eventually Die
Linke will assume a more active role in governing. He confirmed
the Die Linke's potential of entering the Hamburg and/or Hessen
state parliaments in upcoming elections. Gueldner and
Holefleisch strongly emphasized, however, that the Green party
has no intention of ever forming a coalition with Die Linke and
emphasized that the Greens identify themselves more as liberals,
and certainly not as leftists. Both politicians postulated that
with Die Linke on the political scene it will become more
difficult for the SPD or CDU to lead only two-party coalitions
and that three-party alliances may soon dominate the
governmental landscape. Gueldner asserted that the Greens are
well positioned to lead and expected the Greens to have their
choice of coalition partners in Hamburg depending upon which
numerical combination is more advantageous.

JOHNSON

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