Janine Wissler has been confirmed in office as leader of the left. She received around 57.5 percent of the votes at the party conference in Erfurt on Saturday. In the election for the place reserved for women in the dual leadership of the party, Wissler prevailed against competitors Heidi Reichinnek and Julia Bonk. Wissler was controversial after a series of defeats in federal and state elections as well as internal trench warfare.

For the second post at the top of the party, several candidates appear at the party congress. The most promising candidates are Sören Pellmann, a member of the Bundestag, and Martin Schirdewan, a European politician. There were ten applicants for the party chairmanship alone. The personnel changes are intended to help the left regain its footing.

Die Linke has also decided to downsize its party executive from 44 to 26 members. The aim is to make the body more powerful and thus also to upgrade it, said the outgoing federal manager Jörg Schindler on Saturday at the federal party conference in Erfurt. The necessary majority of around 570 delegates supported the change immediately before the new election of the party executive.

In a previous speech, the long-time leader of the left parliamentary group, Gregor Gysi, painted a bleak picture of the state of his party. At the Erfurt party conference of the left, Gysi said on Saturday: “I can’t think of any real congratulations on our 15th birthday, because we are in an existential crisis.” The left must rethink what its purpose for society is, and itself then orientate on it.

Gysi complained about the polyphony in the party. It is no longer recognizable what the majority and what the minority opinion is, said the former parliamentary group leader. He also complains about a “climate of denunciation” and the public trench warfare. “Our argument is in the media before it even happened.” He added, “Stop the petty crap.”

In Erfurt, the Left also wants to determine its highly controversial position on Russia and its war of aggression in Ukraine.