Migrants who have their asylum claims rejected should not be given any social benefits, the country's left-wing firebrand, Sahra Wagenknecht, has said. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)


Strip failed asylum seekers of social benefits, demands Germany left-wing politician


Migrants who have their asylum claims rejected should not receive any social benefits, Germany’s left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht said.

The comments provoked outrage among politicians in Die Linke, Wagenknecht’s former party.

She split from it at the end of 2023 to form her own party — the eponymously named Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW).

Speaking to German media, Wagenknecht lashed out at paying social benefits to rejected asylum seekers, arguing it was one of the reasons many African and Middle-Eastern migrants ended up in the country.

“The fact that the state continues to pay the same benefits after a rejection cannot be explained to the taxpayer,” she said.

“After a transition period, cash benefits should expire if there is no protection status.”

In the current system, there is effectively “no difference” between migrants granted asylum and those refused it, she said. Last year, the majority of asylum applicants were not granted protected status by German authorities.

“Anyone who makes it to us can safely assume that they will be able to stay and receive benefits permanently, even without protection status,” she said.

The statement angered Wagenknecht’s rivals within the Bundestag.

“Apart from the lack of humanitarian decency: This is how people are pushed into the illegal workforce, where they sell their labour at any price,” Die Linke MP Susanne Ferschl said.

She went on to argue the BSW leader’s failure to take this into account showed her previous statements on fighting low wages in Germany were “simply unbelievable”.

Ferschl is far from the only German politician directing criticism at Wagenknecht.

Since officially starting her party in January 2024, the left-wing politician absorbed support from both the left and right.

This meant Wagenknecht has made enemies on both sides of Germany’s political spectrum.

Wagenknecht’s position on Ukraine also angered many inside and outside Germany, with her calls for a peaceful resolution to the conflict interpreted by some as indicative of pro-Russian sentiments.

The populist leader stuck by her position on the issue, earlier this week praising Pope Francis’ statement encouraging Ukraine to enter into peace talks with the Kremlin.

“Anyone who negotiates does not surrender, but rather it is about putting an end to this dying,” she said.

It would be better to begin negotiations now than wait and be forced into peace talks from a weaker position, she added.

So far, the BSW has continued to perform well in the polls.

Support for the new party eclipsed Die Linke, though it remains far behind the German Greens, Social Democrats, and rival populist group Alternative für Deutschland.

The party has also not been immune to making gaffs.

Details of 35,000 of its supporters were leaked earlier this week.

Of these, 5,000 are thought to be donors who have given the party over €500. Their names, emails, and donation amounts were leaked.

BSW says it has notified the German authorities of the leak, and is preparing to make a criminal complaint.