German politician starts new leftist ‘movement’
BERLIN (AP) — One of Germany’s most prominent left-wing politicians on Saturday launched a self-styled new “movement” that she says is aimed at reviving the fortunes of the country’s ailing left. However, it is meeting with widespread skepticism.
Sahra Wagenknecht’s “Aufstehen” (“Stand Up”) movement opened its website Saturday, with a full official launch to follow next month. Wagenknecht told the weekly Der Spiegel that “our aims are of course different political majorities and a new government with a social agenda.”
Germany has three parties that are broadly left-leaning, the Social Democrats, the Greens and the furthest-left, Wagenknecht’s Left Party. However, they lack a parliamentary majority together, and policy differences and personal antagonism have also been a barrier to a national alliance.
No serious consideration was given to a left-wing coalition when the three did have a joint majority in 2005 and 2013 elections. Instead, conservative conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel formed “grand coalitions” with the Social Democrats. The same combination governs now, and the Greens last year explored a possible coalition with Merkel and a pro-business party.
One of the Left Party’s parliamentary leaders, Wagenknecht is a divisive figure even within her own party, in part for taking a skeptical position on migration. She is keen to dent the appeal of the far-right Alternative for Germany to protest voters who previously supported her party, but a recent party congress backed “open borders” for asylum-seekers.
Wagenknecht says she wants to encourage people who don’t feel at home in any party to get involved in politics. She told Der Spiegel that no one has to leave the organization they are in to join her movement but she wants to create “social pressure” on political parties.
However, other leaders of her party oppose the initiative and there’s little sign of significant support from its rivals.
Ralf Stegner, a deputy leader of the Social Democrats, said that Europe needs “progressive alternatives” but not “a PR initiative led by notorious separatists who, on European or integration policy issues, don’t represent progressive or left-wing positions.”