German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition looks strong going into Sunday's election, but 'Die Linke' – the Left – could prove a spoiler.
Gadflies, novices, charismatics, former East bloc officials, Marxists, and peaceniks – that's the upstart "Die Linke" party, in the eyes of most Germans.
Ahead of German elections on Sunday, Die Linke – a party of former East German communists – tends to elicit chuckles from German voters, and nasty snorts from political elites.
Yet emerging from an uninspiring election campaign that avoided tough issues, where "consensus" was the watchword of all five parties save Die Linke, and where 25 percent of voters are undecided – the party headed by fiery Oskar Lafontaine could bring a surprise. They are already bringing a recalculation of post-election politics.
Die Linke's election motto is "Wealth for all." Known in English as the Left party, its support has shot up from 4 percent to 14 percent in polls since the 2006 elections, and is surging after a good showing in local elections three weeks ago. They attract workers, are popular in eastern Germany, and worryingly for the establishment represent a "protest vote" among Germans desiring a clearer voice for "social justice."
Die Linke is the only party calling for German withdrawal from Afghanistan – an issue that could be a sleeper, though it hasn't shown up in polls yet.
The Left sees its fellow left Green party as bourgeois-bohemians – well-intentioned eco-softies that came to Berlin to do good, and stayed to do well.