The Left vs. “Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht”: Both have recently gone their separate ways. But they still sit together in the left-wing parliamentary group in the Bundestag. It won’t last much longer.
The divorce is finalized, but the household goods have not yet been divided and people are worried about the children – that’s what it sounds like on the left at the moment.
After endless arguments, former parliamentary group leader Sahra Wagenknecht resigned from the party along with nine other members of the Bundestag in order to found a competing project. Nevertheless, the so-called renegades remained in the left-wing faction in the Bundestag for the time being. They discussed how long this should continue.
The answer is a bit confusing: the group wants to dissolve – but that won’t be officially decided until next week. “We have decided that we will initiate the liquidation next week,” said parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch. The date on which this liquidation will begin will then be determined. He couldn’t give a date yet: “Next Tuesday I can tell you when that will happen.”
Without Wagenknecht & Co. there won’t be enough mandates for the parliamentary group
Bartsch had already said before the group meeting that the left-wing faction was “politically finished.” “It will be the case that we will no longer be a parliamentary group in the German Bundestag in the foreseeable future.” At the same time, he emphasized: “I advocate that we do this as calmly as possible, with as much dignity as possible and as goal-oriented as possible.”
The initial situation was already quite confusing. Without Wagenknecht and her colleagues, the Left does not have enough mandates for a parliamentary group in the Bundestag. Instead, there could be different parliamentary groups in the future – Wagenknecht and her people on the one hand and the 28 MPs remaining on the left on the other.
Such groups have fewer parliamentary rights than a political group and receive less financial support. As a parliamentary group, the Left received around 11.5 million euros in state funding in 2022, according to a briefing from Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in September. The left-wing faction alone spent 9.3 million euros on staff. It has over 100 employees.
If the faction is liquidated, everyone must first be fired – with the uncertain prospect of a new job in the future groups. Do you want that just before Christmas, in a party that advertises itself as social and fair? Or can notice periods be “missed” in such a targeted way that people get paid at least a few months longer until spring? In any case, Wagenknecht and her supporters didn’t want to pass the buck and asked to remain in the faction for the time being and thus delay its end.
“We’re breaking up, but we’re breaking up like adults”
Bartsch had publicly advised the Wagenknecht people not to come to the faction meeting. But just before 2 p.m., four of the so-called renegades still solemnly walked into the faction hall in the Reichstag building. There they made an “offer,” as Wagenknecht’s long-time comrade-in-arms Christian Leye said afterwards. They want to talk about orderly processing, also with consideration for the parliamentary group employees. “We said from the beginning: We’re separating, but we’re separating like adults – no war of the roses,” said Leye.
To stay with the divorce metaphor: For practical reasons, the quarreling spouses should live under the same roof for a while. Many on the left find this bitter, not just former party leader Bernd Riexinger. Acting co-chair Janine Wissler also said in advance: “It is completely clear to me that this is of course not a tenable situation.” We have to “get the transition done as quickly as possible.” The party leadership wants to have the Wagenknecht issue cleared up by the beginning of the Left Party Congress in Augsburg on November 17th at the latest.
The left must fight for its political future
Because both sides are now political adversaries. The “Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht” association wants to become its own party at the beginning of 2024. According to surveys, this would have great voter potential. It is difficult to estimate whether she will make full use of it, especially since the program and staff are open. In any case, the left must fight for its political future. In recent surveys it was only around 4 percent.
She hopes for a comeback when the ongoing dispute with Wagenknecht is finally over. If the group’s liquidation decision is made next week, they will have at least demonstrated something like the ability to act – even if the time is later. “I would like, and I see this with a bit of optimism, to see the left get back on the road to success,” said Bartsch. “And there was great agreement today that we want to try that.”
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.