Wagenknecht will no longer run for the German Left Party

by Silke Regard 

Sahra Wagenknecht will no longer run for her party, Die LINKE, for the next legislative period of the Bundestag. She said she either wants to retire from politics – “or something new will come up politically.”

Sahra Wagenknecht has been sitting in the Bundestag for the Left Party for around 14 years and is considered the party’s best-known face.  “I rule out a renewed candidacy for the Left Party,” the 53-year-old told the German daily Rheinpfalz.

 The Left’s deputy leader, Katina Schubert, reacted coolly to this announcement by Wagenknecht.  “She hasn’t been doing politics for the Left for a long time,” Schubert said. “She has been working on her own account for a long time. Her business model is to agitate against the party, her whole book is based on that. I’ll put it this way: don’t stop travelers.” 

Wagenknecht had made it known on Friday evening (3 March 23) that she would no longer be running for the Bundestag on behalf of the Left Party. In the Left Party, she caused a stir with party criticism in her book “The Self-Righteous” as well as with dissenting positions on topics such as migration, Corona and the Ukraine war. She survived an expulsion procedure a year and a half ago. Most recently, it was the war in Ukraine and her criticism of the German government’s economic war against Russia that caused trouble within the party.  

Wagenknecht and feminist icon Alice Schwarzer recently mobilized hundreds of thousands supporting their “manifesto for peace”, and tens of thousands for the Berlin demonstration. Wagenknecht has hinted at possibly becoming part of a new party startup. 

To that, Schubert, who is also Berlin’s regional  LINKE chairwoman, said, “Honestly, I don’t believe in it because, that’s way too much work for her after seeing how she fell on her stomach with (the ‘Aufstehen’ movement). But even if it is, it is.” Wagenknecht hasn’t played a role in the Left’s “programmatic development” for a long time, she said. “Rather, her business model is to defame and badmouth people from the sidelines,” Schubert said. “To that extent: clarification would perhaps make some things easier.” Schubert speaks for the realo current within DIE LINKE. Many of those support arms deliveries to Ukraine and thus the German government’s course. 

Wagenknecht has sat in the Bundestag for the Left Party since 2009 and entered parliament again in 2021 via the federal state list of North Rhine-Westphalia. Schubert said, “I don’t think she would have been nominated again in North Rhine-Westphalia either.” Alas, who knows … 

Left Party co-president Janine Wissler has voiced criticism on speculations about the founding of a new party by Sahra Wagenknecht. The Left Party has “a good programme, we have important goals, and I don’t think flirting with new parties is helpful”. Wissler stated this on the sidelines of an extraordinary party conference of the Hessian Left Party in Wetzlar. At the same time, she made clear that she was not aware of “any specific plans” and to “no efforts to that effect.” DIE LINKE is divided on the Ukraine war, and fears of a possible ‘peace list’ comepeting with DIE LINKE for the next European elections are high. 

Wagenknecht has not yet publicly committed herself to her future plans. On this, she told the Rheinpfalz newspaper only: “This is being discussed in many places.” She already announced after the Berlin demonstration on 25 February 23: ‚It‘s time to organize’. 

Germany’s Left Party is in difficult waters (because of their leaderships’ quest to link up with Social Democrats and Greens on many fronts, and to create a R2G government after the next German general elections). Whether there emerges a new ‚peace oppostion force‘, remains to be seen.

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