SPD In-Fighting Müntefering Slams Beck for Left Party 'Mistake'

Former SPD leader Franz Müntefering has lashed out at the leadership of Kurt Beck. In an internal strategy paper he says it was a mistake to consider cooperating with the Left Party and warns the party against turning to the left and abandoning important reforms.

Franz Müntefering is unhappy with the direction the SPD is heading.

Franz Müntefering is unhappy with the direction the SPD is heading.

The former head of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) Franz Müntefering has sharply criticized the current leader Kurt Beck for the way he handled the party's debate about whether to cooperate with the Left Party.

In an internal strategy paper Müntefering describes Beck's decision to first exclude working with the Left Party in western states before then allowing it as a "mistake," adding that it was now time to limit the damage.

The veteran politician says the timing of the debate within the party on whether or not to cooperate with the party of ex-Communists and former SPD members was "fatal."

The Social Democrats have seen their support slide since Beck gave the party leader in the state of Hesse, Andrea Ypsilanti, the green light to try to form a minority government with the support of the Left Party. That plan failed spectacularly after one of her SPD colleagues in the state parliament refused to break an election promise not to cooperate with the far-left party.

Müntefering, who stepped down as Labor Minister and Vice Chancellor last November due to his wife's poor health, presented the paper to the party leadership at the end of February. In it he warns against turning to the left and abandoning the Agenda 2010, the tough welfare and labor reforms that the previous SPD-Green Party coalition under then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder introduced five years ago.

On the question of who should stand as the party's candidate for chancellor in the 2009 elections, Münterfering writes that the Social Democrats have to rule out any cooperation with the Left Party at a federal level. "That should also be apparent in the SPD's personnel decisions."



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