Future of the Left Party: desire for reorientation

On Saturday, “progressive leftists” will meet to discuss the future of the Left Party: The break with the Wagenknecht wing is likely to be central.

A red Left Party balloon flies in a cloudy sky

broken soon? In 2009, the party had more than 78,000 members, today there are only 56,000 Photo: Stefan Boness/Ipon

BERLIN taz | It’s a rescue attempt. “It’s about nothing more and nothing less than fighting to ensure that the left will still exist in the future,” says ex-Bundestag member Thomas Nord, one of the initiators of the “meeting of progressive leftists in and at the Die Linke”, which takes place in Berlin on Saturday. At the conference, federal, state, European and local politicians from the party want to discuss how the dramatic downward trend can be stopped.

There’s no question that the party isn’t doing well: worn down by fierce infighting within the party, it’s losing massive numbers of members. At its peak in 2009, the party had more than 78,000 members; now there are just around 56,000. A central reason for the problematic situation: the inability of the party leadership and the unwillingness of the parliamentary group leadership Conflict with the “left conservative” positions of Sahra Wagenknecht and its followers leaves many at a loss as to what the Left Party actually stands for. The result: In nationwide surveys, it only ranks between 4 and 5 percent.

In some western countries, the polls no longer even show a measurable response. At the same time, the weakness in the west can no longer be compensated for by good results in the eastern German states, because there – with the exception of Thuringia – the number of voters is also declining.

“A left-wing party that is not recognizable as such will not be elected, it will disappear into insignificance,” warns deputy party leader Lorenz Gösta Beutin. “That’s why we need to decide which way to go: further to a progressive left, in which human rights and social rights are indivisible, or to a national-populist party that scorns minority rights, wage earners against climate activists, queer people and migrants: inside,” he told the taz. Beutin is also one of the invitees to the meeting.

“Self-destructive arbitrariness”

A central role in the event should be a reckoning with Wagenknecht’s political approach. Your “left-wing conservatism” – a self-description her book The Self Righteous – fatally delimits himself “offensively from social, anti-fascist movements and those against discrimination, from left-wing organization in trade unions, concrete solidarity and internationalism,” says a draft for a joint declaration available to the taz, which is to be adopted on Saturday.

In order to prevent misunderstandings, the authors emphasize that the criticism of Wagenknecht and her followers is in no way directed against unionized or capitalism-critical, internationalist leftists: “Quite the opposite, we see them as allies of a sustainable left.”

Thomas Nord demands that there be a basic understanding of the constructive tendencies in the party for a new political recognisability. Because the current coexistence of incompatible positions on central socio-political issues has led to a “self-destructive arbitrariness,” according to Nord to the taz.

His conclusion: “We need a break with the social-conservative national populism represented by some well-known party members.” He hopes that the meeting will be able to set an example in this direction.

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