is an extremely important chance for us," said Gregor Gysi, the former PDS
leader turned political partner of Mr Lafontaine.
"Who would have thought in 1990 that we would be
part of a pan-German party that is left of the SPD? I have to admit I couldn't
have imagined it," Mr Gysi added.
With a general election expected this autumn, the
Left Party will give electoral list places to candidates from Mr Lafontaine's
The alliance, proposed initially to clear the 5
per cent parliamentary hurdle, is attracting enough voters angry at Mr
Schröder's reforms to make it Germany's third-strongest political power, with
over 10 per cent support.
It remains to be seen whether the Left Party will
hold this support until election day.
However, the party is already threatening to
disrupt the election arithmetic, making more likely a grand coalition between
the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) and a Social Democratic Party (SPD)
without Mr Schröder.
SPD leader Franz Müntefering played down the new
party's election chances yesterday, suggesting that Mr Lafontaine was motivated
by "vanity and self-importance".