Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, has warned that Germany's left-wing Left Party has been infiltrated by far-left extremists and former communists.
The mass circulation newspaper Bild reported in its Wednesday edition that an unpublished report by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which will be presented Thursday by Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, reveals that the party contains what the agency describes as "extremist structures."
The most powerful individual faction within the party is the Communist Platform (KPF) with 840 members, according to the report. It struggles openly for the "overthrow of capitalism" and is making massive attempts to influence the party's new political platform, the agency writes.
The agency also mentions a faction with around 60 members called the Marxist Forum (MF), "an association of orthodox communist-oriented members and sympathizers," including former members of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), the communist party which ruled the former East Germany.
The KPF and MF participate in a movement within the Left Party known as the Geraer Dialogue/Socialist Dialogue. This group, which has 120 members, is a "receptacle for extremist forces," according to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Its political platform expressly includes "the extra-parliamentary struggle for social change."
Other left-wing extremist movements within the Left Party include the Socialist Left with 550 members, as well as a pro-Cuban faction, the Cuba Si Working Group, with 420 members.
The Left Party was founded in 2007, the result of a merger between the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) the successor party to East Germany's SED, and the WASG, a party founded in 2005 by disgruntled former members of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), most of whom were based in western Germany. It has been doing well recently in state elections, significantly in western as well as eastern Germany, leading many observers to remark that Germany's traditional four-party system has now been replaced by a five-party one.
The new report isn't the first time that the Left Party has been criticized for being home to extreme left-wing elements. There was an uproar in February when a member of parliament representing the Left Party in the state of Lower Saxony suggested that the East German secret police and the Berlin Wall weren't such bad ideas after all.
While many Left Party members in the former East Germany are viewed as having become more moderate, particularly as the result of their inclusion in state governments, the party is still viewed with skeptism by many in Germany. In fact, the SPD has been going through something of a crisis about how to deal with the growing support for the left-wing party: When party leader Kurt Beck recently gave the SPD in the state of Hesse the green light to form a government with Left Party support, there was a minor revolt.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is responsible for monitoring political extremism in Germany. Among its main focuses are far-right extremists, far-left extremists, Islamist terrorists and the Scientology organization. According to the agency's 2006 annual report -- the most recent available -- there are around 31,000 left-wing extremists in Germany, of whom around 6,000 are prepared to use violence to achieve their ends.