Lafontaine, Oskar

Lafontaine, Oskar,

1943–, German politician. He rose through the Social Democrat Party (SPD) and electoral ranks in the Saar, becoming SPD regional chairman in 1977 and premier of the Saar in 1985. A leader of his party's "peace faction" in the early 1980s, he denounced Chancellor Helmut SchmidtSchmidt, Helmut
, 1918–2015, German political leader, chancellor of West Germany (1974–82). After serving in World War II, he entered politics and joined the Social Democratic party. He was elected to the Bundestag in 1953.
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's nuclear policy, calling for withdrawal from NATO. He was seen as the party's "conceptual pioneer," who would redefine its policies on unemployment and the environment. He opposed the German reunification agreement negotiated by Chancellor Helmut KohlKohl, Helmut
(Helmut Josef Michael Kohl) , 1930–2017, German statesman, chancellor of West Germany (1982–1990) and reunified Germany (1990–98). A member of Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he was elected to the Rhineland-Palatinate parliament in 1959, became
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, but lost support within the SPD; he was defeated in the Dec., 1990, election, having survived an assassination attempt in April. In 1995 he became national chairman of the SPD. Returned to parliament, he became (1998) finance minister in the government of Gerhard SchröderSchröder, Gerhard
, 1944–, chancellor of Germany (1998–2005), b. Mosenburg, Germany. A telegenic lawyer and Social Democrat, he entered politics as a Marxist student in the 1960s and was elected to the Bundestag in 1980.
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, but clashes over policy caused him to resign the ministry, his SPD leadership, and his parliamentary seat in Mar., 1999. In 2005 he joined with left-wing SPD dissidents, former Communists, and others in forming the socialist Left party.
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