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Route to Nowhere

Peter Mair: European parties of the Left, 4 January 2001

The Heart Beats on the Left 
by Oskar Lafontaine, translated by Ronald Taylor.
Polity, 219 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7456 2582 7
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... of the Left still leave much to be desired – not least by the former German Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, who now documents his many criticisms in a revealing account of his experiences in the lead-up to and the aftermath of the Red-Green coalition of 1998. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Germany had a three-party or – as it was sometimes ...

Leap to Unity

Keith Kyle, 22 March 1990

... can, but if December’s election is an all-Germany one, the main beneficiary could be not him but Oskar Lafontaine. The colourful and erratic Minister-President of the Saarland has just been chosen, following a brilliantly successful re-election campaign in his Land, as the SPD’s Chancellor-candidate for December. He has alarmed the Federal ...

After the Wall

Peter Pulzer, 23 May 1991

Die Mauer: Monument of the Century 
by Wolfgang Georg Fischer and Fritz von der Schulenburg.
Ernst and Sohn, 208 pp., £22.50, November 1990, 3 433 02327 1
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... election because they thought he could manage unification more efficiently than the SPD’s Oskar Lafontaine, not because they thought it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to them. The third irony is that those who most wanted to preserve the GDR, other than the nomenklatura and their hangers-on, were the dissidents round the New Forum ...

A General Logic of Crisis

Adam Tooze, 5 January 2017

How Will Capitalism End? 
by Wolfgang Streeck.
Verso, 262 pp., £16.99, November 2016, 978 1 78478 401 0
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... critique of a major element of the European institutional structure – the euro. It was Oskar Lafontaine – ‘Red Oskar’ – who broke the silence. ‘Hopes that the creation of the euro would force rational economic behaviour on all sides were in vain,’ he said, and called for the single currency to be ...

Which is worse?

Adam Tooze: Germany Divided, 18 July 2019

Die Getriebenen: Merkel und die Flüchtlingspolitik – Report aus dem Innern der Macht 
by Robin Alexander.
Siedler, 288 pp., €19.99, March 2017, 978 3 8275 0093 9
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Die SPD: Biographie einer Partei von Ferdinand Lassalle bis Andrea Nahles 
by Franz Walter.
Rowohlt, 416 pp., €16, June 2018, 978 3 499 63445 1
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Germany’s Hidden Crisis: Social Decline in the Heart of Europe 
by Oliver Nachtwey, translated by Loren Balhorn and David Fernbach.
Verso, 247 pp., £16.99, November 2018, 978 1 78663 634 8
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Die Schulz Story: Ein Jahr zwischen Höhenflug und Absturz 
by Markus Feldenkirchen.
DVA, 320 pp., €20, March 2018, 978 3 421 04821 9
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... left, was sworn in as Hesse’s environment minister. By the end of the 1980s, with the pugnacious Oskar Lafontaine, the prime minister of Saarland, in the vanguard, a new breed of SPD-led ecosocialists was on the march. Germany’s Red-Green future was deferred by the collapse of the Soviet Union. The fall of the Wall scrambled the political expectations ...

The German Question

Perry Anderson: Goodbye to Bonn, 7 January 1999

... and dependability so rarely go together.’ The favourite of members and apparatus alike remains Oskar Lafontaine, whose skill, charisma and discipline galvanised the SPD machine in the years of Kohl’s decline. Lafontaine was another postwar orphan from a poor family, educated by Jesuits in the Saar, who became the ...

That was the year that was

Tariq Ali, 24 May 2018

... strands of West German social democracy. The biggest break, if you like, was in Germany, where Oskar Lafontaine had a left-Keynesian programme; he opposed the war Germany had waged in Yugoslavia, saying that the German state had yet to acknowledge its responsibility for the break-up of Yugoslavia. The very fact that he split openly and publicly was ...

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