The leader of Germany's new Left Party has criticized what he called the neo-liberalism of the country's government.

Oskar Lafontaine also told some 300 delegates at a party congress Saturday in Berlin that the weak need greater protection. He defended his party's plan to raise taxes on the rich and to introduce a monthly minimum wage of more than $1,700.

Mr. Lafontaine's party consists of former communists and left-wing defectors from Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic Party.

Opinion surveys once suggested the Left party could get about 13 percent of the vote in Germany's general election September 18.

But support in recent polls has slipped below 10 percent.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.