Carola Rackete in the top left-wing duo and a scandal on the open stage

“A left for everyone”
New top duo with Carola Rackete and a scandal on the open stage: This is how the Left Party conference went

The new top duo of the Left: Carola Rackete (l.) and Martin Schirdewan

© Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / DPA

At the party conference in Augsburg, the Left is encouraged that it is still needed. She wants to leave arguments and depression behind her before the 2024 election year starts. And almost no one wants to talk about Sahra Wagenknecht anymore.

The Left is moving with party leader Martin Schirdewan and the former sea rescuer Carola Rackete as the top duo in the European election campaign. A party conference in Augsburg confirmed both with a large majority on Saturday evening. You are running as a team with the trade unionist Özlem Demirel and the poor doctor Gerhard Trabert. In the European election program, the party focuses on asylum, climate protection, redistribution and disarmament. The Left is hoping for a fresh start after the break with the wing around Sahra Wagenknecht.

Schirdewan, Rackete, Demirel and Trabert were nominated by the party leadership and received broad support from the delegates. The best result with 96.8 percent was achieved by Trabert, who has been a doctor caring for the homeless and refugees for decades. Like Rackete, Trabert is not a party member.

Left party conference in Augsburg: A scandal on the open stage

While the 35-year-old Rackete had no opposing candidate, federal chairman Schirdewan surprisingly had to compete against another candidate. Hamburger Bijan Tavassoli declared his candidacy and then caused a scandal. Tavassoli used his speech to insult the party and praise Wagenknecht, who had recently left the left. Then he also announced his resignation from the party.

However, Tavassoli had no chance of choosing the candidate and only received around two percent of the vote before he was led out of the hall by security personnel. The party conference presidium spoke of a “disruptive action”, Schirdewan of an “unpleasant incident”. Tavassoli had already attracted attention with provocative actions in the past.

Carola Rackete apologizes

Rackete’s candidacy was greeted with great applause by many delegates. She became internationally known as the captain of the ship “Sea Watch 3” by rescuing refugees from distress at sea with her crew. In 2019, she responded to a ban by the Italian authorities on the island of Lampedusa.

The day before the election, Rackete caused discontent among some leftists with an interview. She told the “Zeit Online” portal that the left should once again consistently distance itself from the SED past and come to terms with this time. Rackete later explained on X, formerly Twitter, that this was “a thoughtless statement.” At the beginning of her application speech, she emphasized again: “I messed up.”

15 euro minimum wage in the European election program

In its European election program, the Left is focusing on its classic themes: more public spending and fewer requirements through European debt rules, more taxes on high incomes and corporate profits, strict climate protection, an asylum policy that is as restricted as possible, and a strengthening of the European Parliament in the EU political structure .

The program sees a need for reform in the EU and speaks of the “anger of many people”, but does not fundamentally question the community. Specifically, the Left put forward a new demand: They are now calling for a 15 euro minimum wage in Germany. Previously it was for 14 euros. The minimum wage is currently 12 euros.

“A new chapter”

The European elections will take place in Germany on June 9, 2024. The Left is under pressure from poor election results and the formation of a rival party announced by Wagenknecht. This planned party also wants to run for the European elections.

After the break with Wagenknecht, the party leadership hopes to inspire new members and voters for the Left. To this end, she launched the “One Left for All” campaign. “This weekend we are opening a new chapter,” said party leader Janine Wissler in her party conference speech. “The conflicts in recent years have increasingly paralyzed us and could no longer be resolved.”

Structural and strategic tasks were left undone. It’s about making the left strong again and making it the opposition to the traffic light government in Berlin, said Wissler. She pointed out that more than 700 people had joined the party since the break with Wagenknecht. This is “an encouraging signal”.

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