Oskar Lafontaine (German pronunciation: ; born September 16, 1943, Saarlouis-Roden) is a German politician, former German finance minister, former chairman of the Social Democratic Party and former prime minister of the state of Saarland. Currently he is co-chairman of The Left.
He rose to prominence locally as mayor of Saarbrücken and became more widely known as a critic of chancellor Helmut Schmidt's support for the NATO plan to deploy Pershing II missiles in Germany. From 1985 to 1998 he served as prime minister of the Saarland. In this position he struggled to preserve the industrial base of this state which was based on steel production and coal mining with subsidies, and served as President of the Bundesrat in 1992/93.
In the German federal election of 1990, he was the SPD's Chancellor candidate. The party was defeated due to the national euphoria following the reunification. During the campaign he was attacked with a knife by a mentally deranged woman after a speech in Cologne. His carotid artery was slashed and he remained in a critical condition for several days.