The left has much to talk about. At their party conference at the weekend in Erfurt, not only a new board will be elected. The party is also discussing its position on the Ukraine war and is trying to close its own ranks again after several electoral defeats, accusations of sexism and public quarrels.
Party leader Janine Wissler, for example, demanded a unified line in advance: "Anyone who speaks for the party must represent the party's position". Leipzig's Sören Pellmann, who is applying for co-chairmanship, said the party had to "arm each other and put egoism aside".
The former faction leader Sahra Wagenknecht, on the other hand, emphasized the directional dispute and sharply criticized the party leadership. Wagenknecht told the "Frankfurter Rundschau" with a view to the line on the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine: "I am appalled that the Left Party Executive is now also promoting so-called human rights wars without a UN mandate. That would be the final break with the previous peace policy tradition of the left."
the initial situation
It's all about the left for the left: Wissler, Wagenknecht and others at least agree that the party is in an existential crisis. In the federal election, the left only managed to get into parliament with 4.9 percent by winning three direct seats in Berlin and Leipzig. Pellmann won one of them.
In the state elections in Saarland, it reached 2.6 percent, in Schleswig-Holstein 1.7 percent and in North Rhine-Westphalia 2.1 percent. In addition, allegations of sexual harassment and sexism shook the party. Wissler's co-chair Susanne Hennig-Wellsow resigned in April.
In Erfurt, the entire party executive is to be re-elected on Saturday. In addition to Wissler and Pellmann, eight other women and men are candidates for the dual leadership, which the party lists alphabetically on its website: Julia Bonk, Carlo Eidmann, Wolfgang Kolonko, Christoph Mehrle, Heidi Reichinnek, Martin Schirdewan, Rolf Schümer and Torsten Skott. In addition to Wissler and Pellmann, chances are calculated for Reichinnek, a member of the Bundestag, and Schirdewan, a European politician. Hardly any of them are known nationwide.
Celebrities in the Backdrop
Wagenknecht and the former faction leader Gregor Gysi are much better known. The current parliamentary group leaders Dietmar Bartsch and Amira Mohammed Ali and other members of parliament such as parliamentary director Jan Korte, former party leader Bernd Riexinger or ex-Vice Klaus Ernst also have a better profile. Bodo Ramelow is Prime Minister of Thuringia.
But either they don't want to run or they don't have a chance of winning a majority. Wagenknecht canceled her participation for health reasons. “Unfortunately, I will not be able to go to the party conference of the left because I have been on sick leave since Wednesday and there is a suspicion that I have contracted Corona because of a contact,” said Wagenknecht. "I'm very sorry."
The issues of dispute
Many leftists seem to agree on many points - focus on social policy, take care of the poor, attack traffic lights from the left, speak simple language. Nevertheless, leftists argue with a sharpness that is often astonishing for outsiders, also on Twitter. Foreign policy will be a top topic at the party congress. How clearly is Russia's war against Ukraine condemned? How much complicity attributed to NATO? Is the left also in favor of sanctions against Moscow and if so, which ones? A line is being sought - also for the question of how much climate protection is socially acceptable.
Is the left still needed?
The Left likes to refer to a study by the party-affiliated Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. She had 2,300 people questioned, 18 percent of whom could imagine voting for the left. Wissler said: "The situation calls for a strong left voice." Poor people are particularly affected by rapidly rising prices. The left must stand up for them.