A former spy of the notorious East German Stasi has announced his bid for a leadership position of the far-left Die Linke (The Left) in the eastern region of Thuringia.
Mathias Günther, who worked with the Stasi in the 1980s while an officer in the East German (DDR) border troops, announced his candidacy for the leadership position ahead of the party’s congress that is set to take place next weekend, Der Spiegel reports.
The 57-year-old has reportedly been very open about his past involvement with the Stasi and has been the branch manager for the party in Thuringia since the start of 2019 and is now running for the post of managing director to replace Michaele Sojka.
Günther was also a member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), the Communist ruling party of the DDR in the 80s, which would later transform into the Party of Democratic Socialism in 1989 and then merged with the Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice to form Die Linke in 2007.
Die Linke won the Thuringia regional election in October with 31 per cent of the vote, with the populist Alternative for Germany, led by firebrand Bjorn Hocke, coming second with 23.4 per cent.
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General Secretary of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Thuringia Raymond Walk said that the announcement cast doubts on how seriously Die Linke differed from its SED predecessor.
The controversy is nothing new for the far-left party whose members openly expressed support for the far-left extremist group Antifa after U.S. President Donald Trump floated the idea of labelling the group a terrorist organisation in July.
Mr Günther is also not the only recent Die Linke politician to have worked for the Stasi either. In 2017, former Berlin under-secretary for housing Andrej Holm was dismissed from his position after it emerged he had been an officer of the Stasi.
Another former agent of the Stasi, Anetta Kahane, who heads the “anti-hate” Amadeu Antonio Foundation, has also worked with the German government, being recruited to patrol social media for hate speech in 2015.