After Sahra Wagenknecht and nine other MPs left the party, the left-wing faction wants to disband. This is a turning point for the role of the Left in the Bundestag.
Left-wing faction leader Dietmar Bartsch sees the impending dissolution of the Bundestag faction as an opportunity for a new departure after long disputes. “It’s the end of the faction, but it’s the chance for a new start,” said Bartsch on ZDF’s “Morgenmagazin”. The “paralyzing self-employment” must be over. “It’s up to us whether we really manage to do politics, politics and more politics, or whether there will continue to be disputes.”
The left-wing faction in the Bundestag wants to decide on its dissolution this Tuesday and set a date for it. The background is the departure of MP Sahra Wagenknecht and nine other parliamentarians from the Left party. Without them, the left-wing faction loses its minimum size.
The Left governs in three federal states
“Today is certainly a day that brings no reason to be happy,” said Bartsch. However, he emphasized that the Left does not only consist of the parliamentary group – the party co-governs in three federal states and has a prime minister. “But it’s up to us whether we can really achieve a change.”
It is now expected that two new parliamentary groups will emerge: the remaining 28 Left MPs on the one hand and Wagenknecht and her supporters on the other. Compared to a faction, a group has fewer parliamentary rights and also receives less financial support from the state treasury. In order to be recognized, the groups need the support of the other factions in the Council of Elders and in the plenary session.
Dissolution during the current legislative period
“It is of course a turning point and the options are becoming fewer,” said Bartsch. He announced that he would do everything “so that we are recognized as quickly as possible and carry out our task.” He recalled the time when the left-wing predecessor party PDS was a group in the Bundestag. “But we managed to move from the group to become a faction again. And that is the challenge.”
The fact that a Bundestag faction dissolves during the current legislative period is new. Such “liquidations” have so far only occurred after electoral defeats: in 2013, the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag was liquidated when it failed to pass the five percent hurdle. In 2002, the left-wing predecessor PDS went through such a procedure once. At that time, only two direct candidates made it into the Bundestag.
Liquidation can take years
Because employees, rooms and contracts have to be terminated, liquidation can take years. The founding of the new groups can begin beforehand.
The left-wing faction received around 11.5 million euros in state funding in 2022, according to a briefing from Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD) in September. The personnel expenses for parliamentary group employees are given at around 9.3 million euros. The group must now terminate all 108 employees. Some of them could find new jobs with the two new groups.
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.