The Left: Reichinnek and Pellmann lead group in the Bundestag – Politics

The Left group in the Bundestag will in future be led by Heidi Reichinnek and Sören Pellmann. On Monday evening, the MPs elected the duo at a closed meeting in Berlin – accompanied by emotional scenes.

Originally, two potential dual leaders wanted to stand for election, each reflecting competing currents in the party: on the one hand, they were Clara Bünger, MP from Saxony, and Ates Gürpinar, one of the party’s managing directors. And on the other hand, Heidi Reichinnek, who is particularly popular on social media, and Sören Pellmann, who won one of three direct mandates from the Left in the last federal election.

Schirdewan said he had hoped that the choice would be clearer

In the first round of voting, Reichinnek initially prevailed against Bünger with 14 votes to 13. Of the 28 eligible voters, only 27 were present because Bundestag Vice President Petra Pau was injured during the exam and needed medical attention.

After Reichinnek’s close election, party leader Martin Schirdewan addressed MPs with an emphatic appeal for unity. “I ask you very much to send this signal,” said Schirdewan to the MPs. His speech was also easy to understand for the journalists waiting in front of the hall. Schirdewan said he had hoped that voters would rally more clearly behind a candidate. “Now we have the closest possible result.” This is not what the party leadership wanted, but it must be possible to end the confrontation.

Will lead the Left group in the Bundestag in the future: Heidi Reichinnek and Sören Pellmann after the election on Monday evening.

(Photo: Carsten Koall/dpa)

In the days leading up to the retreat, there had been frantic efforts to avoid a fight vote. The original four applicants – Bünger, Gürpinar, Pellmann and Reichinnek – were asked by the party leadership on Saturday to agree on an “integrative solution”. Schirdewan and his co-party leader Janine Wissler had hoped to get one candidate from each duo through, thereby preventing either one or the other half of the group from feeling unrepresented by their leaders. Hectic negotiations continued on Sunday – no agreement was reached.

In a second round of voting, Clara Bünger ran again, this time against Pellmann. Gürpinar withdrew his application, apparently hoping to increase Bünger’s chances. But here too the result was 14:13 against Bünger.

The now most important leadership figures have a complex history

The divisions on the left are deep. Bünger and Gürpinar are attributed to the so-called “movement left”, a movement that wants to distinguish itself from the other parties primarily through a very liberal migration policy. Ecological and equality issues also play a major role for this group. Pellmann and Reichinnek, on the other hand, are considered to belong to a more pragmatically oriented wing that primarily focuses on social issues, seeks government participation and primarily wants to address the practical problems of people with low incomes.

For the party leadership around Schirdewan and Wissler, the close election of the new group leadership is bitter in several respects. On the one hand, because the failed duo of Bünger and Gürpinar is closer to them in terms of content. Secondly, because it was not possible to send a conciliatory signal through this allocation of posts. In addition, at the party conference in Erfurt in 2022, Pellmann and Reichinnek ran for party leadership – and lost to Schirdewan and Wissler, of all people. The four most important leading figures on the left now have a complex history.

In the end, everyone involved tried to demonstrate optimism: they would work well together, said party leader Janine Wissler. The aim is to return to the Bundestag with parliamentary strength in 2025.

Asked about the apparent division within the Bundestag group, Reichinnek said the new leadership had been elected “with an honest majority.” There was a need for an open discussion, which there was. But now she wants to “reach out and represent the whole group.”

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