Sahra Wagenknecht, Germany’s pre-eminent firebrand of left-wing politics, has left the Die Linke party and announced the creation of her own populist group.
Named after herself, the long-rumoured Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) has been billed as a major threat to the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party due to numerous similar policy positions.
As with the AfD, Wagenknecht’s new outlet will oppose mass immigration, gender ideology, “blind eco-activism” and unconditional support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.
“We decided to found a new party because we are convinced that things cannot continue as they are currently, otherwise we probably won’t recognise our country in 10 years,” she told the media alongside her fellow Die Linke defectors.
The party leader has insisted that her group will never work with its right-wing counterpart, maintaining the cordon sanitaire implemented against the party by its mainstream rivals.
“Of course we will not join forces with the AfD,” she said.
Germany’s Die Linke parliamentary group will not last much longer, according to an MP who recently defected from the party. https://t.co/1iMg75ToaT
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 20, 2023
Reactions to the founding of the new party have been mixed.
Speaking to Brussels Signal, European parliamentarians from the AfD seemed unimpressed by the new outfit, with Markus Buchheit MEP saying that the group’s genesis says more about how “run-down” Die Linke is than anything else.
“For the AfD, I see no significant threat from the Wagenknecht alliance,” he said.
“On the one hand, it has no new faces. So the new party is nothing more than a split-off. On the other hand, Wagenknecht does not clearly position herself in the interests of the citizens and our country on the essential points, especially regarding mass immigration.”
This point was echoed by another AfD politician, Dr Gunnar Beck, who — while complimentary of Wagenknecht herself — seemed to doubt her new group would see any long-term success.
“She has more reasonable views on most central political issues than any other politician from the establishment,” he said.
“However, she has no radical coherent concept for solving the migration [issue],” Beck continued, adding that he doubted Wagenknecht was “enough of a low-level apparatchik to be a successful politician in contemporary Germany.”
Many of her former Die Linke colleagues have taken the opportunity to castigate the populist leader.
“The millionaire Wagenknecht is founding a party for Wagenknecht in order to collect corporate donations for a Wagenknecht party,” Die Linke Bundestag MP Lorenz Gösta Beutin said, describing the BSW as a “total ego show”.
Die Linke’s official youth wing lambasted Wagenknecht and her “lackeys” as being “transphobic, racist and party-damaging”.
It added that members had been “longingly awaiting her departure”, and had previously pushed for her to be expelled from Die Linke over her populist views.
The vitriol from her former colleagues is made more understandable by the dire financial straits the split has left Die Linke in.
According to Der Spiegel, if Wagenknecht and her new party decide to relinquish their seats in the Bundestag, their former party will lose its recognition as an official parliamentary faction.
As a result, the group would also lose access to the generous financial support granted to it by the German Government, putting the jobs of more than 100 Die Linke staffers at risk.
Germany’s hard Left Die Linke party criticised the country's current education system and argued that students should not be expected to do homework. https://t.co/L7XDcidDwW
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) September 18, 2023