Dispute over Wagenknecht on the left: Bartsch rejects resignation as group leader

After Sahra Wagenknecht's controversial speech, in which she blamed the federal government for the conflict with Russia, things have not yet calmed down even within the Left Party.

Dispute over Wagenknecht on the left: Bartsch rejects resignation as group leader

After Sahra Wagenknecht's controversial speech, in which she blamed the federal government for the conflict with Russia, things have not yet calmed down even within the Left Party. Group leader Dietmar Bartsch sees no danger to the existence of the group in the Bundestag.

Left faction leader Dietmar Bartsch rejects personal consequences because of the controversial speech by his party colleague Sahra Wagenknecht in the Bundestag. When asked if he would comply with demands for his resignation, Bartsch told "Stern": "No, definitely not."

The suggestion that Wagenknecht should speak in the debate on the Ministry of Economics' budget last week did not come from the leadership of the parliamentary group, "but from the householders," said Bartsch. "There was a debate in the parliamentary group. Every member of the parliamentary group could have made the request: Sahra Wagenknecht should not speak. But nobody has." Bartsch emphasized that this is also the usual way in other parliamentary groups to determine the speakers. "Do you think that Friedrich Merz in the Union parliamentary group decides who will speak in which debate on each individual plan? That is determined by specialist politicians, he takes note of it, and that's how we do it too."

In her speech, Wagenknecht said Germany had "the dumbest government in Europe." She also accused the federal government of "starting an unprecedented economic war against our most important energy supplier". The speech caused fierce opposition, including in the ranks of the left. Prominent members such as the President of the German Parity Welfare Association, Ulrich Schneider, declared their withdrawal from the party. Critics have long accused Wagenknecht of not representing the majority opinion of the party.

Bartsch told "Stern" that sanctions against Russia could be discussed. "But I don't want this debate to ignore the real problem: That's Putin's war against Ukraine. Sahra Wagenknecht did condemn the war in her speech, but she should have made that clearer."

Bartsch does not see the danger that MPs could leave the parliamentary group. "My position is clear: all MEPs have been given a mandate for the left, the three directly elected MEPs with perhaps a certain exception. I can tell you: the group will stay together." Should three MEPs leave the group, the status as a group would be lost.

Bartsch said on Deutschlandfunk that MPs had to stick to party decisions. "We have a corridor," said the group leader. This is determined by the election programs and decisions of the party. The core of the politics of the left is to be "the social opposition in the Bundestag" and to deal with the politics of the traffic light coalition.

Bartsch also rated Wagenknecht's statements about party leader Martin Schirdewan as ineffective. At "Zeit Online", the former faction leader had described this as "wrongly cast". Schirdewan told the newspapers of the Funke media group on Wednesday: "The resignation of Schneider and others hurts a lot and shows that the disregard of democratic decisions by individual MPs when they appear on behalf of the parliamentary group is causing massive damage to our party." It is the task of the group leadership to ensure that something like this does not happen again.

The Left Party has been at odds for years. In 2012, the then parliamentary group leader Gregor Gysi said at a party conference that "hatred" also prevailed in the parliamentary group. The fronts in the faction and party no longer run along the substantive groups or wings, but have long been of a personal nature.

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