Oskar Lafontaine (January 24, 1997)
In a crucial vote at the SPD party conference in Mannheim in 1995, Saarland’s minister president Oskar Lafontaine was elected national party chairman. He replaced Rudolf Scharping, the party’s unsuccessful chancellor candidate in 1994. Lafontaine, a populist, rallied the party behind him and engaged in successful opposition politics against the Kohl administration. Having focused the SPD’s efforts, he succeeded in blocking the CDU/FDP coalition's planned tax reform – known as the Petersberg Model – in the Bundesrat. The SPD then introduced an alternative tax-reform concept under Lafontaine’s chairmanship, so as not to appear fundamentally opposed to reform. This photograph shows Oskar Lafontaine, national SPD party chairman, presenting his alternative tax-reform model at a press conference on January 24, 1997. Photo: Christian Stutterheim.