Left co-boss resigns: The “radical pragmatist” gives up


As of: 04/20/2022 8:20 p.m

She became known nationwide for throwing a bouquet of flowers – now Hennig-Wellsow is throwing down after just one year at the top of the party. At a time that could hardly be more unfavorable for the Left Party.

By Carolin Dylla, ARD Capital Studio

It is a long, very personal and also self-critical text. In the afternoon, Susanne Hennig-Wellsow publishes a statement in which she explains the reasons for her withdrawal from the party leadership. First and foremost she names her private and family situation – wanting to have more time for her son. “But in this situation, the left also needs a leader who is there for the party with everything she has,” writes Hennig-Wellsow. But she can no longer afford that.

Co-Chair of the Left Hennig-Wellsow resigns

Sarah Frühauf, ARD Berlin, daily news at 8:00 p.m., April 20, 2022

In the letter, Hennig-Wellsow takes her party to court – and her own role in it. There was no real new beginning, voters lost their trust, and hopes and expectations were disappointed: “Due to our own weakness, we were unable to keep our promise to be part of a forward political change.”

Too big ambitions?

From the point of view of Gregor Gysi, the foreign policy spokesman for the parliamentary group, Hennig-Wellsow was not happy in her role as co-party leader – “and was not made happy either,” Gysi told the editorial network Germany.

In fact, the Thuringian embodied the pragmatic, moderate party wing in the leadership duo with Janine Wissler. Hennig-Wellsow comes from a federal state in which the Left Party is in government – a project that she also wanted to promote at the federal level and for which she vehemently advocated. “We have been a protest party for many years,” Hennig-Wellsow said at the party conference where she was elected co-party leader, “but people don’t have time to wait for us, they live in the here and now.”

Lack of support in his own party

In the federal election campaign, she represented her “radical-pragmatic approach” and campaigned to present herself not only as a party capable of governing, but also as a party willing to govern. In a party that often conducts fundamental discussions in a narrow-minded and passionate way, this was and is not an easy position. And one for which Hennig-Wellsow often lacked the support.

According to observers, she did not avoid fundamental discussions. She even campaigned for a dispute – but at the same time appealed to unity and respectful interaction. Apparently she didn’t get through with this tone of voice either.

In her letter of resignation, disappointment can also be heard between the lines: “A programmatic, strategic and cultural renewal of the left is necessary, we’ve known it for years. I’ve tried everything I can to contribute to it. But so far we haven’t been on the right path Got as far as I think we should.”

Low point of a month-long descent

In the federal election, the Left Party fell just short of the five percent hurdle with 4.9 percent – and only got into the Bundestag thanks to three direct mandates in the parliamentary group. There was agreement on the left that things couldn’t go on like this – one could only agree. A unity the party failed to show on its pre-election positions. The position on NATO, the faction’s majority abstention in the vote on a deployment of the Bundeswehr to evacuate local forces from Afghanistan, the hotly debated question within the party as to whether supposed “minority issues” are being taken care of too much: in all of these issues left no clear line.

The low point of the political descent: the state elections in Saarland at the end of March. “The degree of snout is relatively high” – that’s how Hennig-Wellsow commented on the result of the left. There the party was kicked out of the state parliament after 13 years – with a result of 2.6 percent trimmed to the level of the animal welfare party.

Another crisis for a troubled party

Hennig-Wellsow’s resignation also comes as a surprise because her co-party leader Janine Wissler is currently the focus of attention. On Good Friday, the “Spiegel” published extensive research: it is about alleged abuse of power, border crossings, “toxic macho culture” – especially in the Hessian state association. According to Jakob Hammes, federal spokesman for the party youth organization Solid, there are now around 60 cases in several state associations.

Dietmar Bartsch, co-head of the parliamentary group Die Linke, on the resignation of Hennig-Wellsow and the situation of the left

daily topics 11:00 p.m., April 20, 2022

According to the research by “Spiegel”, there are also allegations against a former partner of co-party leader Wissler. Solid spokesman Hammes sees the omissions above all in the Hessian state association – and its chairman. “They knew everything,” said Hammes. The board of directors of the Hessian state association has also actively built up pressure to sweep the processes under the carpet. On the other hand, Hammes is not calling for co-party leader Wissler to resign in connection with the allegations – even if he regards some of her behavior as problematic. “It’s more important to raise awareness now,” he says.

“Blatant deficits” disclosed

Hennig-Wellsow also cites the sexism allegations as a reason for her resignation. Dealing with it revealed “blatant deficits” in the party. For the party, which has been driven by political existential fears for months, the resignation comes at the worst possible time. Just on the day when the federal board wanted to discuss the allegations of sexism. For the resignation of co-party leader Hennig-Wellsow, these allegations are more likely to have been a concrete reason than the reason for the resignation. But he is symptomatic of the existential crisis of the left – and is likely to exacerbate it. Ironically, before two important state elections in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia.

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