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Now what belongs apart is falling apart

Now what belongs apart is falling apart: Member of the Bundestag Sahra Wagenknecht (left) has announced that she will no longer stand for her party.

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Now what belongs apart is falling apart

Now what belongs apart is falling apart: Member of the Bundestag Sahra Wagenknecht (left) has announced that she will no longer stand for her party. It is the beginning of the end of her career in the Left Party. And a long overdue step against the background of how much the left and its former figurehead have publicly torn, injured and damaged.

It's time Wagenknecht went and took their supporters with them. The rifts are too deep – personally and politically. The earth is too scorched for anything new to thrive on it. It could be a fresh start for Wagenknecht and their opponents. At least as likely - maybe even more likely - it could mean the political end for both sides.

Of course, the controversial politician is still a member of the left. And yet her actions are reminiscent of what her husband, former Left Party leader Oskar Lafontaine, did a year and a half ago: He also announced that he no longer wanted to stand for the Left Party in Saarland in the state elections at the time. Only a few months later, he left and broke with the party he had once founded himself.

Unlike Lafontaine, however, Wagenknecht has not yet announced the end of her political career. And that leaves the most important question unanswered: what does the left-wing politician do?

Her answer so far: political withdrawal, work as a publicist - "or something new will arise politically". There have been rumors for months that Wagenknecht could found his own party. She has not announced anything to that effect.

Anyone who takes their rejection of a renewed candidacy for the left as proof that it cannot be otherwise is wrong. Because with her announcement, the former parliamentary group leader only forestalls her already sealed fate in terms of the Bundestag mandate. The fact that the North Rhine-Westphalian state association would choose her as the top candidate again in 2025, as in previous federal elections, or give her a similarly promising place on the list has been considered illusory for months.

From Wagenknecht's point of view, the fact that the "Get Up" collective movement, which she founded less than five years ago, was unsuccessful, speaks against a new political project. In addition, the question would be who would handle the organization of such a mammoth task: Neither interpersonal nor organizational matters are considered Wagenknecht's strengths.

However, the fact that Wagenknecht not only seeks and dominates the limelight speaks in favor of a political re-establishment. Rather, with their positions, for which their party colleagues verbally tear them up, they also encountered a strong positive response in part of the German population. This applies to her statements on migration policy issues and the pandemic - as well as to her statements on the Ukraine war.

If Wagenknecht were to found a party, it would probably be about another alternative – namely the alternative for Germany. The left-wing politician received "great support" from the right-wing party's electorate, said AfD boss Alice Weidel in October "t-online". "Of course, there has been a certain amount of competition that we have to deal with."

So while the possibility of a Wagenknecht party would make the AfD nervous, this scenario would primarily be a problem for the left. Next to Gregor Gysi, Wagenknecht is probably the most popular politician in the party. In the current Germany trend, 26 percent of Germans said they were satisfied with their work - a value that Linke boss Janine Wissler can only dream of at nine percent.

While opposing comrades almost demonize Sahra Wagenknecht because they see her as the source of constant arguments and thus as a central reason for the decline of the party in recent years, Wagenknecht's radiance does not go unnoticed by them either.

“Does Sahra do more harm than good to the party?” is therefore a constant question within the left. Since the federal election in 2021 and the almost exit from parliament, the number of those who answered yes to this question seemed to be increasing. Increasingly, the realization is that the ongoing self-occupation, the inconsistent communication of political positions, will never be resolved if Wagenknecht and her allies do not leave.

The problem for the left: Wagenknecht will take voters; whether she's just retiring or starting something of her own. And for the Left Party, which is teetering at the five percent hurdle, any loss of voters is an existential threat. And yet it can be assumed that a direct competitor of the left would do more harm than a Sahra Wagenknecht who completely withdraws from the public eye.

In the end, it's also about the question that only Wagenknecht can answer himself: how much does she want to harm the left?

"Kick-off" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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