BSW against the Left: How Sahra Wagenknecht is destroying her old party

BSW against the Left: How Sahra Wagenknecht is destroying her old party
BSW against the Left: How Sahra Wagenknecht is destroying her old party

According to new polls, no majority government could be formed in Thuringia and Saxony without the Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW) alliance. In Erfurt, even the State Chancellery is tempting. And the Left? Apparently out.

Early June in Erfurt. Around 40 people are busy in a huge hall choosing the state list of the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) for the Thuringian state elections on September 1st. The party’s eponymous leader has also arrived. Wagenknecht stands patiently in front of the cameras, giving one interview after the other. Her smile is just as perfect as her lime green blazer.

There is only one question she seems unprepared for: would she run for prime minister if the BSW were to enter a coalition as the largest party? After all, she does not have to be a member of the state parliament to do so.

Wagenknecht looks briefly irritated, but quickly sorts herself out. “We will discuss this question,” she says. “But in Katja Wolf we have a very experienced top candidate who also has real administrative experience, unlike Mr Voigt, by the way. And I believe that she would be very suitable for this position.”

The answer leaves everything open.

CDU and BSW in Thuringia on equal terms

Less than three weeks later, the scenario of a BSW prime minister seems almost realistic. According to a new survey commissioned by MDR, the former Left Party mayor of Eisenach, Katja Wolf, who is leading Wagenknecht’s party in the state election campaign, is competing with CDU top candidate Mario Voigt for the state chancellery – in which Bodo Ramelow, the only Left Party prime minister in the Federal Republic, sits.

The , in which the AfD is at 28 percent, sees the CDU at 23 percent and the BSW at 21 percent – and thus on a par. Meanwhile, the Left has plummeted to 10 percent.

Even if the numbers cannot simply be superimposed, Wagenknecht appears to have won two thirds of the 31 percent that Ramelow’s Left Party achieved in the 2019 state election. The fact that the only left-wing state premier is still by far the most popular politician in the country with 47 percent approval is of little use to the party.

Wagenknecht serves the old protest instincts

Why is that? Why are so many Left Party voters switching, even though the BSW, with its peace and anti-migration populism, is more likely to offer AfD voters content? On the one hand, it may have something to do with the fact that Wagenknecht was the best-known member of the Left Party until the end of last year and brought quite a few other prominent members with her. On the other hand, she can uninhibitedly serve the old protest instincts that once made the PDS great until it had to pursue realpolitik in government.

And: In contrast to her former party, Wagenknecht now represents a real option for power. Even if Ramelow currently appears to be undervalued at 10 percent, he can hardly claim to lead the government in the future, especially since the partners in his minority coalition are fighting for their parliamentary existence. The SPD is still just above the 5 percent hurdle at 7 percent, while the Greens have already slipped below it at 4 percent.

Of course, it is only a survey; a large proportion of voters have not yet made up their minds. In addition, the BSW has only been in existence for five months and has only accepted a few hundred members nationwide. There is also only an initial program. It is not only the political competition that speaks of a ghost party that is being inflated above all by the media.

But now the first elections have taken place and the results were clear enough. In Thuringia, for example, Wagenknecht’s party achieved 15 percent in the European elections, while the Left shrank to 5.7 percent. In the local elections, the BSW also achieved mostly double-digit results in most places where it ran.

In addition, the analysis of voter migration shows that the alliance is winning in eastern Germany primarily at the expense of the Left Party. Nationwide, Wagenknecht withdrew from her old party.

The situation is similar in the other eastern German states – for example in Saxony, where the parliament will also be elected on September 1. A state election poll published this week by the Insa Institute on behalf of the three major Saxon regional newspapers puts the BSW at 15 percent, while the CDU of Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer is just behind the AfD at 30 percent.

Since the coalition parties SPD and Greens are at 5 percent and the FDP is barely measurable at 2 percent, the same applies to Kretschmer in Dresden as to Voigt in Erfurt: He will need the BSW in the autumn in order to be able to form a state government. And the Saxon Left? With 4 percent, it would no longer be in the state parliament.

Who will become Prime Minister – or Prime Ministeress?

At least for Kretschmer the question of who will be the prime minister is not an issue. The situation is different in Thuringia: if the Union were to remain ahead in the end, the answer would be relatively simple. The future Wolf faction seems ready to elect Voigt to head the government.

Conversely, however, this seems absolutely unthinkable. Even if CDU federal leader Friedrich Merz recently relativized his fundamental rejection of the BSW for the state level: the mere idea of ​​a Minister President Wolf or even Wagenknecht is likely to tear the Union apart at least as much as the Ramelow question did almost five years ago.

The only solution would then be a non-party compromise candidate who would lead a BSW-CDU government. Or? Katja Wolf wants to star “not to comment on speculation.” Instead, she says: “We are fighting for change, not for positions.”

This answer also leaves everything open.

Source: Stern

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