Oskar Lafontaine, the long-time face of the German left, has told his newly-formed WASG party it would be beneficial to ally itself with the former communists. That would position it considerably left of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats, potentially splitting the left-leaning vote. Lafontaine’s alliance could win more than 10 per cent, according to polls. A foreign minister under Schroeder, Lafontaine stormed out of the cabinet as his boss edged towards the political centre ground.His new party is rallying all those opposed to the Chancellor’s welfare and labour reforms. On Friday Gerhard Schroeder pulled off the first stage of an unusual electoral manoeuvre. He lost a vote of no confidence in his government, as he had wanted, arguing a new general election would give him a stronger mandate. However all the signs point to defeat at the hands of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in any early poll. It is also far from certain there will even be an early election as only the country’s president can dissolve parliament.