Oskar Lafontaine

Oskar Lafontaine

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Oskar Lafontaine

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Description:
Oskar Lafontaine (; born September 16, 1943, Saarlouis) is a German politician, former German finance minister, former chairman of the Social Democratic Party and former Minister-President of the state of Saarland. Since 2007 he was co-chairman of The Left. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, he declared resignation from federal political functions in January 2010, citing health reasons.

Family and education

Lafontaine was born in Saarlouis into a family of craftsmen. His father, Hans Lafontaine, was a professional baker and was killed serving in World War II. He spent his childhood living with his mother, Catherine, and twin brother, Hans, in Dillingen.

Lafontaine attended a Catholic episcopal boarding institution in Prüm and there was educated at the Regino-Gymnasium, a public school. He left school in 1962 and received a scholarship from Cusanuswerk, the scholarship body of the Catholic Church in Germany, to study physics at the universities of Bonn and Saarland. Lafontaine graduated in 1969; his thesis concerned the production of barium titanate crystals. He worked for Versorgungs- und Verkehrsgesellschaft Saarbrücken until 1974, serving on its board from 1971.

He is currently married to his third wife, Christa Müller, who leads a campaign against genital mutilation in Africa. The couple have two sons. Lafontaine is a Roman Catholic.

Political rise

Lafontaine rose to prominence...
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