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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Left Party Conference in Augsburg: Not an easy new beginning

For the new Left Party without Wagenknecht, simply resorting to the old basic program will not be enough – especially with a view to Russia.

Janine Wissler and Martin Schirdewan, chairwoman of the Left Party, on a stage.

The Left chairmen Janine Wissler and Martin Schirdewan at the party conference in Augsburg Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa

The Left also wants to visually demonstrate that a new era has begun with the departure of Sahra Wagenknecht and her followers. At its party conference in Augsburg it presents itself with a new logo. The party touts it as having a “new sharpness” and a “non-conformist slant”. Above all, it is no longer black and white with just a small wedge-shaped red dot as a dot.

The color red is now more dominant. The logo becomes “a waving banner,” enthuses the party leadership. The three-day event in the Bert Brecht city is primarily about sending the strongest possible signals: that the left is still there – and that it believes in its future.

There is a lot of talk among the more than 500 delegates about departures and new beginnings. The split from Wagenknecht & Co. seems to bring great relief to the vast majority of those who remain, because the systematic destruction of the left from within is now finally over. But even if the party is currently about twice as many entries as exits recorded, it would be a dangerous self-deception to believe that she had already overcome her existential crisis. Rather, the party conference is just a stage on a path where it is still unclear where it will lead.

The agonizingly long separation process has left deep marks that are not so easy to remove. Especially since with the departure of the “left-wing conservatives” the Left has – fortunately – not become a streamlined party. Furthermore, there are large socio-cultural differences between East and West, younger and older members; Parliamentary political ideas are contrasted with more movement-oriented approaches; Social democratic reformers cavort side by side with traditional left-wing trade unionists and eco-socialists. Do they reflect on what they have in common in order to make what divides them bearable, perhaps even productive? Will it be possible to develop a culture of discussion based on solidarity that demands to be a pluralistic left-wing partyalso practically redeemed?

This is just as open as the question of whether it will be enough to achieve more than agreeing on unconvincing formula compromises, as was usual in the past. Simply going back to the old basic program from 2011 is certainly not enough, because there is no answer there, for example, to what left-wing peace policy can or must be in times of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Enough space for a left-wing party at the cutting edgeone with charisma, does exist, the post-Wagenknecht left just has to find it.

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