In the midst of the existential crisis, the left changes its entire party leadership. In less than three weeks there will be elections at the Erfurt party conference. So far it looks like a showdown with fight candidates. And although the left is largely in agreement that the opposition within the party is paralyzing the party, it is unable to escape its own camp logic.

A power struggle has been raging behind the scenes for a long time, in which the various groups are struggling for the authority to interpret the candidacies. Left-wing movements, which include party leader Janine Wissler, for example, sense a concerted action by the so-called horseshoe: what is meant are reformers and far-left members whose cooperation in the parliamentary group is notorious despite differences in content. The supposed goal: extend your power to the presidency.

Within the candidate tableau, four comrades are given chances. The statutes provide for dual leadership with at least one woman. WELT introduces the four candidates:

If Wissler were voted out, it would be a sensation – and a maximum smack for the 41-year-old. On her side she knows the movement left. And her office bonus. Everyone knows her, she stands for continuity.

Her quick-wittedness is emphasized by supporters. Despite the party’s miserable state, there are quite a few who think it has done a solid job over the past 15 months. Simply changing the staff will not save the party, “Janine” hardly had a chance to prove herself – these are common arguments for Wissler.

But her notoriety is also a disadvantage: As the remaining party leader, she is the face of the misery. And is directly linked to the MeToo allegations that shook the left and prompted the resignation of co-chair Susanne Hennig-Wellsow. Wissler is accused of knowing about the attacks and not having taken any action. One of the accused is her partner at the time.

Wissler denies the allegations. Nevertheless, it damaged her politically. The party executive supported her, however, and there were no loud calls for her resignation from the front row.

Wissler’s weakness is Heidi Reichinnek’s strength: those who want to get rid of Wissler will elect the parliamentary group’s spokeswoman on women’s affairs. The left-wing youth in particular should have them on their side. For weeks, the party youth has been putting Wissler under pressure in the context of the MeToo debate on social media.

Reichinnek himself is rather unknown so far, which would mean a new beginning. Some Linke members, however, shrug their shoulders unknowingly at their name. Do you elect a party leader you don’t know?

The 34-year-old has been state chairwoman in Lower Saxony since 2019. Last fall she entered the Bundestag for the first time. The faction leader Amira Mohamed Ali is considered a confidant and supporter. This is probably one of the reasons why parts of the party rated Reichinnek as a candidate for the leadership of the parliamentary group. Reichinnek belongs to the Wagenknecht camp, it warns. Others believe that co-group leader Dietmar Bartsch is behind the candidacy. She herself denies this.

In general, Reichinnek’s candidacy shows above all a widespread impulse on the left: everyone who is not a friend is seen as a potential enemy. In any case, an election on your part would be seen as a victory for the horseshoe in the power struggle that has been going on for years.

Should Wissler be elected, her new co-chair could be Martin Schirdewan. The 46-year-old is the leader of the Left Party in the European Parliament and a member of the federal party executive. He comes from Thuringia and is considered a pragmatist. A team of scientists

They didn’t say that the two were playing as a duo – but implied it. This is no coincidence. Just don’t alienate your own supporters, that’s the mantra.

Schirdewan’s experience within the party executive and as a parliamentary group leader in the European Parliament speaks for itself. He knows the party well. Criticism of his candidacy does not concern himself, but primarily Wissler. Many trust him to do the job and also consider him suitable to represent the left to the outside world.

The objection raised against him is that as the top candidate for the 2019 European elections, he got a rather poor result. However, anyone who makes the occupation of the left presidency dependent on election victories can look a long time.

Schirdewan’s opponent is Sören Pellmann, 45, better known as the “savior of the left”. In the federal election, Pellmann won his constituency in Leipzig and held the left as the third direct candidate in the Bundestag – despite missing the five percent hurdle.

Proponents say he proved in Leipzig that he could reach different milieus. Angry tongues, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the constituency, in which the left-wing autonomous district of Connewitz is located, is easy to win – and that a “broom” could have been set up there.

A frequently raised doubt about Pellmann is a lack of charisma. Few can imagine him on major talk shows. In addition, the stamp “Wagenknecht-Mann” sticks to him – a closeness that can be better documented in his case than in the case of Reichinnek. In an interview with the “Leipziger Zeitung” before the general election, Pellmann said he shared 95 percent of Wagenknecht’s positions.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he also signed a statement by a minority group around Wagenknecht, which emphasized that the West shared responsibility. In the course of his candidacy, however, he distanced himself from the call to dissolve NATO.

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