After the announcement about the founding of the new party, work really begins for Sahra Wagenknecht. In order to be elected, you need staff and structures – and the clock is ticking.
The planned Wagenknecht party faces major organizational challenges. According to Sahra Wagenknecht, after being founded in January, she wants to run in the European elections in June. However, participation in the state elections in the east of the country in September is open. There are strict time and logistical requirements for this in the state election laws.
Wagenknecht’s colleagues were also confident about the new party’s chances of success on Tuesday. The former Left leader Klaus Ernst, who left the Left together with Wagenknecht and eight other members of the Left faction, told the German Press Agency: “It’s not just the person Sahra Wagenknecht who is pulling, the time is also ripe. It’s about the issues that we are addressing, that are in trouble and that need to be addressed. That hits the nerve of the times.”
Ernst is familiar with founding new parties. In 2004, the trade unionist fell out with his former party, the SPD, over Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Hartz reforms involving cuts in social policy. Ernst and others were thrown out of the SPD and founded the Electoral Alternative Social Justice (WASG), which later merged with the East German PDS to form the left, which Ernst himself now leaves behind again. “The conditions for founding a company are much more favorable than they were at WASG back then,” said Ernst. But how does founding a party like this actually work, and how do Wagenknecht and her colleagues proceed now?
The club collects donations
The “Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht” association is initially intended to collect donations so that the future party can enter political events in the new year with events and party work. The club consists of Wagenknecht and her closest circle of supporters. There should be no further entries; those interested should later join the party directly, which is to be founded independently of the association.
Founding a party “relatively easy”
“Founding a party is quick and relatively easy. In principle it is just an association under civil law,” “Bild” quoted Mainz political scientist Jürgen Falter as saying a few days ago. Theoretically, you only need a handful of people: If you want to form a party, you have to express this intention in a joint founding agreement, decide on a party program and party statutes, elect a board of at least three people and create a founding protocol that “records all agreements, resolutions and elections of the party Party documented in as much detail as possible,” says Federal Returning Officer Ruth Brand’s website. The program, statutes and names of the board members must finally be sent to her. The legal basis is the party law. A party does not have to register as an association; with the above procedure it is automatically a so-called “unincorporated association”.
4000 signatures needed for European elections
Wagenknecht and her supporters don’t have much time. If the new party wants to run in the European elections on June 9th next year as planned, then, like every party, it must submit a list of its candidates to the Federal Election Commission by March 18th at the latest. These must be determined beforehand in a secret ballot at a so-called constellation meeting of the party. Since the new party is not yet represented in any parliament, it must also submit 4,000 signatures from those entitled to vote plus confirmation from the municipality that those who have signed are also entitled to vote.
Participation in state elections is more complicated – high time pressure
Wagenknecht left it open on Monday whether the new party would also run in the state elections in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg next September, where the AfD was recently at the top in the polls. That’s what we’re aiming for, but that will depend on how the state associations are set up by then and which candidates we have locally.
Things are more complicated in the state elections than in the European elections: the Wagenknecht party would have to notify the state election authorities in writing long before the elections, namely at the beginning of June (Thuringia and Saxony) or in mid-June (Brandenburg), that they want to take part. To do this, it usually needs a state party with a board, program and statutes and must submit the relevant documents. The number of members is also not completely insignificant, the state election management in Saxony said on Tuesday when asked if a party wanted to participate in the formation of political will at the state level. The state election committees then use this information to determine whether it is a party that can be admitted to the election. Only then could she draw up lists of candidates.
Finding personnel will be a challenge
It will be a challenge to recruit enough staff quickly and at the same time to grow “slowly and in a controlled manner,” as Wagenknecht supporters emphasize. “We will act carefully. We want to see who is a member of our group and that we can keep out the bad fingers that arise when founding parties,” said Ernst. There are various options for this, which will later be regulated in the party statutes. For example, parties can use incompatibility resolutions or lists to stipulate who is not allowed to become a member of them due to certain memberships in other associations.
Not looking for personnel in the AfD
The previous left-wing faction leader and chairwoman of the Wagenknecht Association, Amira Mohamed Ali, spoke on the “phoenix” channel of a major task and challenge in view of the organizational effort alone up to the European elections on Tuesday. She repeated the call for potential supporters to support the association with donations. When asked whether politicians who are currently with the AfD would be an opportunity to recruit the necessary staff, she said on the “Welt” broadcaster: “No, for God’s sake, that’s unimaginable, a change from the AfD now in our party, that won’t happen, we won’t allow that either.” But not everyone who might have once voted for the AfD is lost to democracy.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.