This time it's going to be a showdown, many are sure of it. The left has been through a lot since it was founded 15 years ago, has celebrated highs and suffered defeats, has invoked solidarity and bickered on the open stage, again and again and above all with its icon: Sahra Wagenknecht. But now it's enough, say insiders. There is talk of splitting or disintegration. At the meeting of the parliamentary group this Tuesday, things should get busy.
Ironically, the left is actually quite successful with the campaign
"It's never been this bad," Bonn political scientist Frank Decker says of the party's situation. Wagenknecht took the conflict to the extreme without any willingness to compromise. "I think it's only a matter of weeks before she will leave the party or be told to leave." The consequences could be far-reaching: if three or more of the 39 MPs left, the left would no longer be a parliamentary group and would lose money and political influence.
The reason for the latest escalation is Wagenknecht's Bundestag speech on sanctions and Russia policy on September 8th. In it, the former parliamentary group leader eloquently criticized the "stupidest government in Europe". With a view to the German government's dealings with Russia, she said: "The biggest problem is your grandiose idea of starting an unprecedented economic war against our most important energy supplier." It is important to supply Germany with cheap energy from Russia. The "fatal economic sanctions" would have to fall.
Wagenknecht had already said all of this in interviews - in contradiction to party congress resolutions condemning the Russian war of aggression and supporting most of the sanctions. And now Wagenknecht was the only speaker from the left-wing faction in this debate, more or less officially, at the podium. And the AfD applauded. Many comrades were bursting at the seams.
Supporters of Wagenknecht hold against it. The group colleagues Klaus Ernst and Alexander Ulrich are on their line. "Ms. Wagenknecht's speech is covered by party congress resolutions and programs, even if the relevant text passages are repeatedly ignored here," says MP Christian Leye. "Of course we have to talk about the consequences of the sanctions policy. There is a part of the population that has its back against the wall and cannot bear the serious consequences."
On this Tuesday afternoon the camps collide. The parliamentary group meeting is said to be about a motion by eight MPs who want to prevent appearances like Wagenknecht's in the future - i.e. speeches that do not reflect the party line. It is unclear whether a majority really goes along and isolates Wagenknecht further. "I predict that the faction will stay together," said Bartsch recently in a stern interview.
Many no longer believe that. "This conflict has been going on for six or seven years," says Bernd Riexinger, former party leader and now one of the eight supporters of the motion. "It keeps popping up." Wagenknecht already represented his own line in migration policy, then in Corona policy. In the federal election campaign, she drove her own party into the parade with a critical book. After the most recent federal party conference in June, she sneered at the newly elected party leaders: "Never change a losing team."
Riexinger says: "You have to make a kind of decision. This mumbling through the way parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch does it will no longer work." A substantive clarification is needed: is the Left "modern peace party" or a "rather left-wing conservative, populist party"?
If Wagenknecht resigns, it would be bitter for the left, because she is "by far the most charismatic and media-savvy spokeswoman for the party," says political scientist Decker. But it would also be bitter for Wagenknecht, because in the future she would lack the tried and tested sounding board of the party. As a result, some on the left say she's staying. She herself only told the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger" last week: "I am currently a member of the left."