The memories came flooding back when I heard last weekend that Oskar Lafontaine, the leftwing German political leader, was withdrawing from national politics. Lafontaine is the sort of public figure that lazy journalists often call “firebrand” (Ukraine’s Yulia Tymoshenko, though from the opposite end of the political spectrum, is another).
I first came across Lafontaine in November 1990, just after capitalist West Germany had taken over communist East Germany – a more accurate way of putting it, in Lafontaine’s opinion, than the weaselly term “reunification”. He was the Social Democratic party’s candidate for chancellor in the first parliamentary elections in the newly united Germany, and he was holding a campaign rally in a sports hall in east Berlin. Read more