A far-left “sister party” of Fidesz could emerge, and that could be good news for German democracy.

The smallest party in the German parliament, Link, which has seen better days, threatens to split. On the one hand, the current leadership of the party, which advocates refugees, radically defends the climate, supports LGBT communities and arming Ukraine, and on the other hand, the former leader of the party, the highly influential Sarah Wagenknecht. He and his followers say “no” to immigration, arms supplies to Ukraine, sanctions and gender theory. So they are doing something very similar to what Viktor Orban, Fidesz and the German far-right AfD are doing.

There is a growing impression that the former leader of the far-left party Die Linke, which is still very influential Sara Wagenknecht he is serious about leaving the party and creating a new one. One of the new signs of this and the party’s crisis is that it supports him. Amira Muhammad Alico-chair of the party faction in the Bundestag, resigned on 7 August, citing Wagenknecht’s relationship with the party.

A few days later, another leader of the Linke faction, who is on the side of the current leadership of the party, Dietmar Barch has also resigned from his post of eight years and does not intend to return to work at the September renewal. The departure of the moderate Bartsch is seriously affecting the party as it loses its national face, he was one of the main candidates in the 2021 elections, and he is of East German origin, of which there are few left in the party. leadership, despite the fact that the base of the party is the provinces of the former socialist state.

The 65-year-old politician said that his decision had nothing to do with the resignation of Mohamed Ali and the Wagenknecht dispute, he had already made a decision, but the timing was suspicious to say the least. The situation in Link was so aggravated that the former president of the party, a supporter of Wagenknecht Klaus Ernst some party members

like a politically incompetent clown

called it. And already in June, the party leadership asked Wagenknecht to return the mandate to him, as he was thinking about creating a party.

The stakes are high: Linke holds 39 of the 736 seats in the lower house of the German parliament. money and time for speaking in plenary sessions. It is known from party circles that there is a rather big chance for this: five to ten representatives of the faction may agree with Wagenkekht.

This could destroy the party, to which Wagenknecht also owes his political career. The 54-year-old politician was born in 1969 in Jena (Thuringia) to an Iranian family and a German mother. He began his political career in the state party of the GDR, then continued it in the successor party, the PDS, which merged in 2007 with the party that emerged from the then ruling coalition of social democrats and the greens, with the Party of Labor and Social Justice (WASG), founded politicians by creating Linke. Her husband is 79 years old. Oscar La Fontaine previously he was a leading politician for the WASG and Linke (but he also led the social democratic SPD for four years, from 1995 to 1999, he was prime minister of the Saar and Gerhard Schroeder also finance minister).

Why don’t Wagenknecht and his entourage try to impose their will within the party? Because so far it hasn’t worked. Even though she previously stated the possibility of secession, most recently at the 2022 party conference, she did not comply with the instructions of the current party leadership.

Declining Support

There are both pragmatic and ideological reasons behind this discrepancy.

The main party candidate in the European Parliament elections is a non-partisan refugee and environmental activist. Karola Racket – he remarked – presumably, they would like to win over to their side the disappointed supporters of the greens, who are in steep decline – which is very disliked by Wagenknecht’s circle. Alexander Ulrich spokesman told Tagespiegel

By nominating Rocket, we are upsetting the workers and insulting our traditional voters. His racket is worrisome among voters, but it is a gift to the AfD.

How did the far-right AfD (“Alternative for Germany”) get here? The former provinces of the GDR are of paramount importance to both parties, and a significant portion of Linke’s disillusioned voters sided with the AfD. Linke has already been among the losers in the 2021 federal election, they have not received so few votes since their founding in 2007, and in recent years it has also suffered losses in provincial elections. Although the AfD also took part in the elections two years ago, it was able to get voters from Linke, and according to current opinion polls, it is growing rapidly, better than ever: if the elections were held on Sunday, it would receive the second most votes, more than the Social Democrats Greens for all three parties of the liberal coalition, 21 percent.

On the other hand, between 2013 and 2017, the largest opposition party in the Bundestag, Linke, struggles to reach the 5% threshold, usually measured at 4%.

The movement from the extreme left to the extreme right may seem strange at first glance, but if we look at the ideological background of Linke’s division, it is not. With his racket and, in fact, Janine Wissler And Martin Shirdevan The problem with the co-presidents of Wagenknecht and his colleagues is that they are pursuing policies that are different from what they believe Linke should be pursuing by virtue of his traditions.

The directions of the party leadership, primarily winning over young climate activists, as well as ignoring the problems of ordinary citizens who fear for their future due to the catastrophic policies of the coalition government, will lead to further electoral defeats and make the connection with the gnome party lose its importance in the future.

Wagenknecht said, referring to the resignation of Mohamed Ali, who made Rakete, the captain of the Sea-Watch rescue ship that caused (or at least became the target of) a diplomatic scandal, his main candidate for the European Parliament.

Heiko Rebsch / DPA / dpa Picture-Alliance / AFP – Linke leaders (left to right): Amira Mohamed Ali, Martin Shirdewan, Janine Wissler and Dietmar Bartsch, December 10, 2022 in Leipzig.

conservative left

In fact, the ideological question within Linke is this: what should left-wing politics look like today? The current leadership is pro-refugees, arms Ukrainians, takes a liberal stance on gender, and sees the link between social inequality and radical climate protection as its core message. According to the Wagenknechts, climate change has social implications as well, but they warn against giving too much importance to it, and despite climate migration, they are (rather) anti-migration, they would regulate immigration more strictly, they are not opposed to “cheap” migration. “Russian energy imports, they condemn Ukrainian weapons and sanctions, and on the gender issue they take a conservative side.

On important ideological issues, the far-left Wagenknecht says something similar to the AfD, Fidesz and Viktor Orban.

Last year, Wagenknecht was consistently condescending towards Russia, unleashing the war. The Hungarian government press also broke the news that a far-left politician had led a “peace campaign” and rejected Western arms sales to Ukraine. Wagenknecht regularly depicts Russia as a victim of Western economic sanctions on his political TV talk shows.

His proposal: a conservative society with a socialist economy, or, as he calls it, left-wing conservatism. It is not known how many people buy it, but it is certain that it is a measurable part of German society.

Heiko Rebsch / DPA / dpa Picture-Alliance / AFP – A protester with a “Thank you Sarah Wagenknecht” banner. Among other things, the demonstration was directed against measures due to the coronavirus, the energy policy of the federal government and sanctions against Russia.

The politician criticizes the current leadership of his party for the fact that they no longer represent the interests of working and socially disadvantaged segments of the population, but are “left-wing in lifestyle” and are trying to get votes in the urban environment with fashionable topics. Thus, they contribute to the strengthening of the AfD. Many residents of the East German states, which are economically lagging behind the West, are left-wing, but currently support the AfD as protest voters.

Nostalgia for socialism as the savior of democracy?

Co-chairman of the extreme right party, Alice Weidel Last fall, he said Wagenknecht was particularly popular with AfD voters in the east. The Wagenknechts, with their conservative leftist views, reflecting the name of the AfD, could become a kind of “alternative left”: they could represent an option for those essentially leftist voters who are disillusioned with the current political elite and therefore forced to vote for them. AfD (if they go to vote at all).

I could also fill the void left by the PDS, the successor to the socialist state party, when Linke was created: nostalgia for the GDR.

Overall, this would mean a weakening of the AfD, which could benefit the stability of democracy.

Wagenknecht had previously stated that he would decide to withdraw from the party before the end of the year, which would also mean a break with the party, but according to others, at the same time, this is already a settled issue, and the process will only take place until then.

It is also important that the matter be completed before the end of the year, since next year not only European but also regional elections will be held in the three East German states. One of them is Thuringia, the only province where Linke was able to appoint a prime minister. Bodo Ramelov through. Opinion polls now show that the AfD will win the 2024 elections. No less, they can get a third of the votes, the CDU of the Christian Democratic Party and the Linke party are behind them, 10 percent less each.

At the same time, a poll was conducted in July, which also asked what voters would say to the Wagenknecht party: 25 percent of those polled consider it possible to vote for him and thus win the election, because only 22 percent of the AfD would receive in this composition, then there are 10 percent of them will be taken away by a new far-left party.

Stephan Möller, co-leader of the AfD in Thuringia, admitted in connection with the study that the Wagenknechts could take votes from his party, but not to a drastic degree, he said. Regarding the creation of a possible new party, Möller noted:

If I look at the positions of the Wagenknechts, then I see cooperation with them as the most likely.

This shows a resemblance to another provincial co-chair of the party, belonging to the most radical wing of the AfD. For Bjorn Höcke his statement last year: after the politician organized a peace march against the war, he recommended Wagenknecht to join them.

SEBASTIAN WILLNOE / dpa / dpa Picture-Alliance / AFP – Bjorn Höcke, Chairman of the AfD from Thuringia, and Vice Chairman Stefan Möller at the Provincial Party Congress organized in November 2022.

It is not known what Wagenknecht would say to such a coalition, in any case, he said on the podium in June:

most of the people do not see a representative of their interests in any party, but if there are 10 of them – and this is a tragedy – then this is the AfD.

Citing classified documents, the Washington Post wrote that Moscow was behind the collusion of pro-Russian political groups, i.e. Wagenknecht and the AfD, and that the Kremlin was trying to undermine German support for Ukraine with a joint “peace movement” modeled after the Soviet Union. Union.

It is not known what the future will bring, in any case, the new poll sets the picture with the fact that the Wagenknecht confidence index is 24 on a 100-point scale, slightly ahead of Wissler or Weidel, and only reached a high value of 58 points among AfD voters.

An added twist to this case is that the Wagenknechts could rule Thuringia with another possible coalition partner in addition to the AfD: their derelict Link.

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