Category Archives: E U

Turkish Diva Bulent Ersoy’s travails, highlights the contradictory and fascinating country that is modern Turkey.


Imagine that just after British troops had invaded Iraq, two of the juror’s on the hit UK TV show the X Factor had the following on air exchange,

Sharon Osborne –“Current wars are decided at tables and if I had been able to give birth, I would not send my son to fight in a war. These wars are not like ones in the past. It is all decided by people sitting at tables and deciding that some boys should die.”

Dannii Minogue — “I would be proud to be a soldier’s mother and if it were the boy’s destiny to die for his country, I would gladly pay that price.”

Sharon Osborne –”These are cliché words, but at the end of the day, boys go to the military and die and the tears follow. I don’t agree with you.”

I expect most readers would say such a thing could never happen in the UK as the plug would have been pulled; and in any case people like Sharon Osborne and Ms Minogue are picked to appear in these type of TV programs because they are a safe pair of hands, despite being portrayed as being near the edge in reality they are nothing of the sort.

Whilst such an exchange is unlikely ever to occur on live TV in the UK, it did happen in Turkey and one of the jurors involved is now before a Turkish court with a four year prison sentence hanging over her head.

It is worth looking at this matter in some detail as behind it lays much of what makes Turkey such a fascinating and contradictory country. By the 1980s, Bulent Ersoy, the lady who fills the Sharon Osborne role in the Turkish TV hit show Popstar Alaturka, was already one of Turkey most popular male singers and actors, his popularity could be compared with Cliff Richard in the UK, like Cliff, Ersoy also had his own TV show. Then in 1981 he had a full sex change operation, becoming Bulent Ersoy, female singer and actress.

This was shortly after the military coup led by General of Kenan Evren, in the crackdown that followed the General taking power, gay and transgender people where accused of “social deviance,” and Ersoy’s public performances were banned along with those of other openly gay, transsexual and transgendered people.

After failing to be legally recognized as a women Ersoy went to Germany to continue her career. Finally, in 1988, the Turkish civil code was revised and she returned to Turkey to claim her pink for female ID card. Ersoy soon returned to the Turkish stage to great acclaim, and her adoring fans seemed to love her all the more, she became more popular as a woman entertainer than she had been as a man. Her fans and the Turkish people as a whole even took to calling her affectionately “Abla,” elder sister in Turkish.

Semi retired by the turn of the century and regarded by many Turks as a great Diva, she became one of the judges on the hit TV show Popstar Alaturka, which is based on countless similar shows on European and US TV. It was during a live transmission of this show that she had the above quoted conversation with a fellow juror. That at the very same time the Turkish army was conducting a major operation against the PKK in northern Iraq pushed her comments further into the public spotlight.

That some 40,000 people have died since the conflict with the PKK began in 1984 was not mentioned by her critics and after the Istanbul state prosecutor launched an enquiry, she has been charged with “making the public detest military service,” a crime under the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and is due in court soon.

So there you have it, a macho male population, a defiant and brave woman who has triumphed over adversity, a much loved diva and artist, homophobic and transgenda prejudice, censorship, the secret state; and millions of Turk’s who simply love the woman as they believe she sings like an angel; and contradictions galore. As I said at the top of this piece, what a fascinating and contradictory country.

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Filed under E U, Organized Rage, sexual-equality, Turkey/politics/democracy/history/islam/current affairs

Irish No vote is not against the European Union: but a rejection of its current direction.


If any one doubts that the Irish working classes have been at the fore in their opposition to the Lisbon Treaty, they need only look at how adjoining constituencies in Dublin voted. Dublin South – mainly middle-class – 62.9% Yes, 37.1% No, Dublin South-West – which has a majority of working-class people voted 65.1%- No, 34.9%-Yes

It is hardly surprising that on this issue there is such a clear class divide, for unlike a section of the middle classes who still have their snouts in the EU gravy train, although how much longer this will last is any ones guess. The Irish working classes have gained least over the last few years from EU membership and in the main are firmly set against the privatization and neo liberal economics and globalization that are enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty; and which is designed to trump and replace the social Europe that would have benefited a majority of EU citizens and not just Capital and the economically rich minority.

Of course the real reason the Irish political establishment failed to gain a majority for the Lisbon Treaty was that during the campaign they were unwilling to explain the fine detail of the Treaty. This was not because it was to complex for ordinary folk, as the arrogant buggers claimed, but because they understood clearly had they done so they would have opened up a can of worms about what lay behind this wretched document, and even more people would have voted no.

Their arrogance as Ireland enters a recession smacked of desperation, as in the current political climate few people were liable to trust the very same politicians who have helped create the current economic mess and ever widening gap between the rich and economically poor. Thus the majority of the Irish electorate trusted their instincts and voted No, having decided that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, no matter how many times the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fianna Gael, Labour Party, Green Party and Progressive Democrats said you could.

The NO vote against the Lisbon Treaty, confirms there is strong opposition amongst the EU citizenry regarding the democratic deficit, undemocratic methodology and neo-liberal economics upon which the EU is now being built.

The NO vote in Ireland, along with the French and Dutch NO votes against the previous constitutional treaty, should not be seen as a No against the European Union, but a radical criticism of the current policies and as support for an alternative idea of a social and democratic Europe in which people come before profit.  

As the European Left Party said in a recent document, ‘there needs to be a new democratic process involving all European citizens. New contents are necessary; social and civil rights, policies of peace, cohesion and ecology, as well as civil values, which inspire the construction of Europe. And it is crucial that the people can express themselves on a new framework through a European wide referendum.’

The contract between the EU and its people needs to be completely re-negotiated, as to does the Commissions methodology. Lets hope the Irish peoples rejection of Lisbon is the first step down this road. Yes, to a social Europe and lets have no more of these grubby documents which are nothing more than an EU constitution by the back door.

 

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Filed under democratic accountability, E U, Ireland-Politics., Organized Rage, referendum

Statement from Raytheon 9 after their acquittal at Belfast Laganside Court


On 11 June 2008, by a unanimous verdict of the jury, the Raytheon 9 were found not guilty of three counts of criminal damage at the Raytheon offices, Derry Northern Ireland on 9 August 2006. All freedom loving people will welcome the juries decision.

Immediately afterwards, the defendants addressed supporters and press outside Belfast’s Laganside Court. Colm Bryce began:
“The Raytheon 9 have been aquitted today in Belfast for their action in decommissioning the Raytheon offices in Derry in August 2006. The prosecution could produce not a shred of evidence to counter our case that we had acted to prevent the commission of war crimes during the Lebanon war by the Israeli armed forces using weapons supplied by Raytheon.
We remain proud of the action we took and only wish that we could have done more to disrupt the ‘kill chain’ that Raytheon controls.

“This victory is welcome, for ourselves and our families, but we wish to dedicate it to the Shaloub and Hasheem families of Qana in Lebanon, who lost 28 of their closest relatives on the 30 July 2006 due to a Raytheon ‘bunker buster’ bomb.
Their unimaginable loss was foremost in our minds when we took the action we did on 9 August, and the injustice that they and the many thousands of victims of war crimes in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered, will spur us on to continue to campaign against war and the arms trade that profits from it.

We said from the beginning that we came to this court not as the accused but as the accusers of Raytheon. This court case proved that Raytheon in Derry is an integral part of the global Raytheon company and its military production. This is no longer a secret or in doubt. Raytheon have treated the truth, peaceful protest, local democracy and this court with complete contempt. The most senior executive who appeared said that the charge that Raytheon had ‘aided and abetted’ the commission of crimes against humanity was “not an issue” for him. Raytheon should have that contempt repaid in full and be driven out of Derry and every other place they have settled. They are war criminals, plain and simple. They have no place in our society and shame on all those in positions of power or influence who would hand them public funds, turn a blind eye to their crimes, cover their tracks or make excuses for them.

These crimes continue daily and hourly in the Middle East. It is up to those of us who oppose those wars of domination and occupation to build a movement that matches the enormity of what is being done by Western governments. We hope that this victory gives courage and heart to all those involved in that movement and the many more who need to be for us to achieve our aim of stopping these wars. Until then, the very least we can do, to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East is to dissociate ourselves from the corrupt governments of the US and Britain. That means opposing the visit to Belfast of the world’s biggest war criminal, George W Bush on 16 June.

We feel totally vindicated by this decision and wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of those who gave us support, especially to our families and friends, to the members of the Derry Anti War Coalition and the Irish Anti-War Movement , to our excellent legal teams. Of course, we particularly want to thank the jury who listened intently through three weeks of evidence before ensuring that justice was done today.”

Eamonn McCann then addressed supporters and press saying:
The outcome of this case has profound implications.
The jury has accepted that we were reasonable in our belief that: the Israel Defence Forces were guilty of war crimes in Lebanon in the summer of 2006; that the Raytheon company, including its facility in Derry, was aiding and abetting the commission of these crimes; and that the action we took was intended to have, and did have, the effect of hampering or delaying the commission of war crimes.

We have been vindicated. We reject entirely and with contempt the statement by Raytheon this evening suggesting that the result of the trial gives them concern about the safety of their employees. This is an abject attempt to divert attention from the significance of the outcome. Not a shed of evidence was produced that we presented the slightest danger to Raytheon workers. The charge of affray was thrown out by the court without waiting to hear defence evidence. Our target has always been Raytheon as a corporate entity and its shareholders and directors who profit from misery and death.

There is now no hiding place for those who have said that they support the presence of Raytheon in Derry on the basis that the company is not involved in Derry in arms-related production. We have established that not only is the Derry plant involved in arms-related production, it is also, through its integration into Raytheon as a whole, involved in war crimes.
We call on all elected representatives in Derry, and on the citizens of Derry, to say now in unequivocal terms that the war criminal Raytheon is not welcome in our city.

We call on the office of the Attorney General and the Crown Prosecution Service, in light of this verdict, to institute an investigation into the activities of Raytheon at its various plants across the UK, with a view to determining whether Raytheon is, as we say it is, a criminal enterprise.

We believe that one day the world will look back on the arms trade as we look back today on the slave trade, and wonder how it came about that such evil could abound in respectable society. If we have advanced by a mere moment the day when the arms trade is put beyond the law, what we have done will have been worthwhile.

We took the action we did in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter of innocents in Qana on July 30th 2006. The people of Qana are our neighbours. Their children are the children of our neighbours. We trashed Raytheon to help protect our neighbours. The court has found that that was not a crime. This what the Raytheon case has been about.
We have not denied or apologised for what we did at the Raytheon plant in the summer of 2006. All of us believe that it was the best thing we ever did in our lives.

The Raytheon nine are: Colm Bryce, Gary Donnelly, Kieran Gallagher, Michael Gallagher, Sean Heaton, Jimmy Kelly, Eamonn McCann, Paddy McDaid and Eamonn O’Donnell.

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Filed under Derry-anti-war-coalition, E U, north of Ireland-Polıtıcs, Organized Rage, Raytheon-9, UK, US-foreign-policy, war-mongers

Obituary: Paul Patrick, teacher and gay rights activist.


One of the more unfortunately blow backs from the north of Ireland’s troubles, is that unlike the rest of western Europe, where many of the big societal issues were debated through and legislated upon from the late 1960s onwards. The North of Ireland, as far as the more prominent of these issues was concerned was passed by and they are only now coming to the fore.

In many ways the north of Ireland is still in the dark ages as far as Gay Rights, Comprehensive education and ‘A Woman’s Right to Choose’ is concerned. Whilst some legislation has been placed on the Statute book, the northern political elite’s attitudes on the aforementioned issues are very reactionary, at best even progressive political party’s like Sinn Fein prefer to side step issues like a woman’s right to choose due to there fear of the Roman Catholic church’s reactionary influence.

I therefor thought I would repost the Guardian’s obituary of Paul Patrick,* one of the pioneers of the English Gay and Lesbian rights movement.** For Paul was one of those political activist that worked tirelessly away from newspaper headlines to change societies attitude towards Gay people. By personal example, in his work place and by arguing and debating through the right of equality for all GLBT. Gay rights is one of the better examples that from small steps great change can be driven.

* http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/7c/PaulPatrick.jpg/180px-PaulPatrick.jpg&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Patrick&h=246&w=180&sz=27&hl=en&start=1&sig2=81WPHgADvlqNp7QyNqg9zg&um=1&tbnid=Uw1fys32mgBaMM:&tbnh=110&tbnw=80&ei=RhdJSLzmGqbaeoqbuOAE&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpaul%2Bpatrick%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN

**http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/06/gayrights

MH

Paul Patrick
He was in the vanguard of gay rights, especially in schools and colleges.
By Carole Woddis

Paul Patrick, who has died aged 57 from a lung condition, was passionate, voluble, big-hearted and an inspired and inspiring teacher. In the 1970s he became almost certainly the first openly gay teacher in Britain to not only keep his job, but to get promoted. In 1986 he produced, for the Inner London Education Authority (Ilea), the first video to go into schools highlighting homophobia, A Different Story: The Lives and Experiences of a Group of Young Lesbians and Gay Men. In the 1990s he was one of the first single gay men to become the foster parent of a young male heterosexual – recounting the experience on John Peel’s Home Truths programme on Radio 4.
Paul was one of the country’s leading activists on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) issues. He challenged oppression wherever he found it, especially in schools, where his work focused on bullying and homophobia. His influence on the National Union of Teachers helped bring about a sea change in his union’s attitudes, and put it at the forefront of equality issues.
Paul came out in 1969, two years after the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. In 1974, shortly after starting his teaching career at Roger Manwood school (RMS) in Lewisham, south-east London – where he became head of drama – he co-founded the London Gay Teachers Group. In 1981 this became Schools Out, which he co-chaired with a longtime friend and work colleague, Sue Sanders, from 2002. In 2004, with Sanders, he helped set up LGBT history month, working on talks and lectures, and touring nationwide.
Paul was born in South Shields, Tyne and Wear. He was educated at South Shields and Burnley grammar schools, followed by the Philippa Fawcett College, in Streatham, south London, where he studied English and drama.
RMS established his teaching trademark: after-school drama projects, pastoral care and training. Under his direction, school plays became legendary. By the mid-1970s he was on the teachers’ advisory panel for Greenwich Young People’s Theatre and worked with the group producing Ilea’s drama bulletin.
In 1983, when RMS had become Crofton school, Paul became its equal opportunities officer, advising on everything from the personal and sexual to the artistic. He also coordinated a project to bring into his school adults with learning disabilities.
Soon after that Ilea made him an adviser for equal opportunities in expressive arts, particularly drama and theatre studies, personal health and social education and the pastoral curriculum. Other Ilea posts followed until the authority’s abolition in 1990.
In 1997, Paul took a post with Accrington and Rossendale College in Lancashire, became a lecturer and then joined its performing arts department. He then taught – and directed school plays – for three years at the nearby Bacup and Rawtenstall grammar school. Increasingly, he found satisfaction in amateur theatre.
A prolific writer and a compelling speaker, he wrote for, and corresponded with, many papers, including Gay News, the Teacher, and the Times Educational Supplement. A frequent Guardian correspondent, in 2002 he responded to a feature by nominating himself as one of the people who had done most to shape Britain during the Queen’s reign. “I, too, have been a queen for 50 years,” he wrote, “although under somewhat less privileged circumstances. As Britain’s first openly gay teacher not to be fired or moved to a ‘safe’ position and as a campaigner for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality for more than 30 years, I feel I have contributed a lot more to Britain than that other Queen has. I am also,” he concluded, “more attractive and a lot more fun!”
Paul was loved and admired across a wide spectrum – from teaching colleagues and gay community workers to parents, students, artists and his family. He was determined not to leave the world as he had found it, and thanks to him, the lives of many people have been made more tolerable. He is survived by his mother, sister and brother.

· Paul Patrick, teacher and activist, born July 23 1950; died May 22 2008

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Filed under E U, equality, gay-rights, north of Ireland-Polıtıcs, Obituary, Organized Rage, UK

German Capital demands the head of Gregor Gysi: A founding member of Die Linkspartei.[Left Party]


The growth in working class support for Germany’s Die Linkspartei, [The Left Party] as expressed in recent regional election results and national opinion polls has clearly rattled Capital and its gofers in the Bundestag and media. This time in an attempt to halt the party’s rising popularity, reactionary forces have been rifling through the dustbin of history and dug up an old story about Gregor Gysi, one of the Left Party most charismatic leaders, who at one time was a member of East Germany’s Socialist Unity Party. [SED]

Unsurprisingly, as all of these parties have suffered at the ballot box due to the rise of the Left Party, politicians from the Christian Union parties, the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and the FDP have called for for the head of Gregor Gysi by demanding that he should submit his resignation from national political leadership.

As anyone will know who has witnessed Gysi’s regular appearances on German TV, he is a very able fellow who had managed to turn the progressive wing of the Stalinist SED into the PDS, a left reformist party. Which eventually merged with Left social democrats led by the former Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, and the more radical WASG, to form the Left Party.

It is vital that Left Party members hold their nerve over these attacks; and understand they are politically motivated designed to drive down support for the LP. On no account must any party member join the chorus that is demanding Gregor Gysi’s head.

Mick Hall

Below is the DW-world-DE web sites take on this story.

German Left-Wing Leader Accused of Working for Stasi

Politicians from across the political spectrum have called on a top Left party parliamentarian to resign amid new allegations that he was an informer for the Stasi secret police in communist East Germany.

Parliamentarians from Germany’s biggest political parties attacked Left party parliamentary chief Gregor Gysi on Wednesday, May 28, saying he should bear the consequences of having provided information to East Germany’s Stasi secret police.
 
He should own up to his responsibility, politicians from the Christian Union parties the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the FDP said, with calls for an explanation, apology or even resignation.
 
“The departure is overdue,” said Christian Democrat Thomas Strobl. “Take the necessary consequences.”
 
Social Democrat Stephan Hisberg, one of the founders of the East German SPD, accused Gysi and his Left party of “lying and betraying.”

Recurring allegations

Gysi, a lawyer, has been battling allegations he colluded with the East German secret police for years. He responded to the attacks on the floor of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, with an impassioned speech. He rejected the allegations, saying that politicians from other parties had for years used every means to try to damage him personally in order to harm his party.
 
At issue this time is a 1979 meeting between Gysi and two East German dissidents, one of which was his client Robert Havemann. The head of the Stasi archive, Marianne Birthler, had provoked the new debate with comments she made on ARD television on Wednesday, in which she alleged that documents in the archive’s possession concerning the meeting stemmed from an informer who could only be Gysi.
 
Gysi took legal action against ZDF television after it broadcast similar comments Birthler made last week.
 
At a Left party convention last week, Gysi rejected the accusations, saying he had never consciously or willingly cooperated with the Stasi.

Threat from the Left?
Left party leader Oskar Lafontaine had called for Birthler’s dismissal.
 
“The boss of the Stasi [archive] is not in the position to exercise her duties objectively and impartially,” he said.
 
The Left party was established by trade unionists and former Social Democrats a year ago. It is Germany’s third-largest political party.

 
DW staff (ncy)

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Filed under E U, Germany, Organized Rage, Socialism/Politics/UK/EU/Democratic accountability/Left, witch-hunt

Oops: German Post Office Accidentally Prints Nazi Stamp



Talk about shoot yourself in the foot, the story below taken from Deutsche Welle web site is about how the German Post Office accidentally re-printed Nazi era Stamps.

MH

Germany’s national postal system inadvertently printed a set of stamps featuring a picture of Nazi leader Rudolf Hess.
Neo-Nazis used a customized postage stamp service offered by German mail carrier Deutsche Post to issue 20 stamps featuring Hess.

Deutsche Post began offering the customized stamp service, Plusbrief Individuell, in February. It allows clients to upload a digital photograph of a loved one or a commercial product. A week later they receive printed, post-paid envelopes showing the same picture.

Neo-Nazis apparently exploited the opportunity by uploading a picture of Hess, who was Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s deputy. Hess committed suicide in Berlin while serving a life sentence for war crimes in Spandau prison. He is a hero to neo-Nazis, who often demonstrate on the anniversary of his death in August. The Post staff did not notice they had been tricked into issuing the 55-cent stamps.

“It was a slip-up. We are very sorry about it,” said Post spokesman Dirk Klasen at the company’s offices in Bonn.

“It runs in most cases without difficulty,” Klasen said. “Only with the Hess image did something go awry. I presume it came from the far-right scene. But those 20 envelopes won’t shake up German democracy.”

Earlier this year, the company intercepted a request to have stamps printed featuring Hitler as a small child, he said.

The latest newsletter of the far-right National Democratic Party gloated about being able to slip the stamp past Deutsche Post’s quality control personnel.

“The Hess stamp is out there,” wrote Hannes Natter in the May edition of Deutsche Stimme, or German Voice.

Deutsche Post is now going to review its oversight procedures, Klasen said, though he added that “there can be no 100 percent certainty” that something else would not slip through.

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Filed under cockup., E U, German-post-office, nazi-germany

Left-Wing Extremism on the March in Germany: Is this the beginning of a witch hunt.


The article below is taken from the semi official German web site. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,3335522,00.html?maca=en-bulletin-433-html Could this be the beginning of a witch hunt against the German left and especially the Die Linke, [Left Party] which in a short period of time has become a force to be reckoned with in both German national and regional politics.

Mick Hall

Left-Wing Extremism on the March in Germany

Authorities fear an increase in left-wing extremists could lead to more violence

As politicians across Germany work hard to combat right-wing extremism, membership in left-wing extremist groups is on the rise. Many members are also involved in Germany’s Left Party, according to a news report.
As Germany institutes a growing number of programs aimed at curbing far-right extremism, including a 625,000-euro ($964,470) project in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, violence among far-left extremists is on the rise, according to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the mass-market Bild daily reported Wednesday, May 14.

Extremist divisions of several left-wing movements have seen sharp increases in the last year, according to excerpts from the BfV’s still unpublished 2007 report cited in the Bild. Interior Minster Wolfgang Schaeuble is scheduled to present the report on Thursday.

Opponents of social order

Demonstrators at the May Day riots in Hamburg
According to the report, the number of people involved in these groups now totals 6,300, an increase of 300 over statistics from 2006. A total of 5,800 of these fall under the umbrella of a relatively unaffiliated anarchic arm known as “Autonomists.” This group is thought to be particularly prone to violence and responsible for much of the unrest seen in Hamburg and Nuremberg as part of annual demonstrations held on May 1, according to the BfV.

Left-wing extremist organizations are deemed to be “avowed opponents of the state and social order of the Federal Republic of Germany, which they defame as an order of capitalism marked by racism and fascism,” according to the BvF. Though the groups are not illegal, the BfV, which oversees threats to the internal security of Germany, monitors them as some are prone to violence.

Left-wing extremists also came into focus in 2006 when police raided offices throughout Germany ahead of the 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm. The raids, later declared illegal by the Federal Court of Justice, were conducted out of fear that extremist groups might have been planning bombings as part of their anti-globalization protests.

Ties to the Left Party

5,800 of those extremists are affiliated with the “Autonomists” movement
One of the largest of the left-wing groups noted in the 2007 report is the “Communist Platform” (“Kommunistische Plattform”), a group within the Left Party. The organization, whose motto is “overcoming capitalism,” subscribes to a revolutionary-Marxist ideology with 840 members.

Together with the 60-member Marxist Forum, it comprises a fraternity of orthodox-Communism sympathizers including some members of the former East Germany’s Communist Party.

Also noted on this report are the “Socialist Left Party” (“Sozialistische Linke”) with 550 members and the 420-member strong pro-Cuban “Consortium — Cuba yes!” (“Arbeitsgemeinschaft Cuba Sí”).

The Left Party, which has about 10,000 members, was formed in 2007 by left-wing members of the Social Democratic Party and the Party of Democratic Socialism, which was the successor to the former East German communists.

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Filed under democratic mandates/general elections, Die Linke-(Left Party), E U, Germany