The Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance was founded. The new party intends to contest four elections this year. Before that happens, many bureaucratic hurdles still need to be overcome.
It's a historic day for Sahra Wagenknecht. The former left-wing politician sits in a bright red suit in front of a blue wall at a Berlin federal press conference. Wagenknecht had nothing in mind than to turn the German party landscape completely upside down. This Monday, after months of announcements, a new party was finally founded that bears her name: Alliance Sahra Wagonknecht – Reason and Justice (BSW).
He forms a dual leadership with former Left Parliamentary Group leader Amira Muhammad Ali. The new party wants to contest European elections in June and three state elections in East Germany in the autumn. Until then, Wagenknecht and his colleagues still have a few hurdles to overcome, and not just systemic hurdles.
Wagenknecht says there were 44 founding members. It includes former members of the Left and other democratic parties, doctors, professors, entrepreneurs and theologians. Wagenknecht presents Fabio De Masi, a former left-wing MP and finance expert, and former Düsseldorf mayor Thomas Geisel, who left the SPD only the day before after forty years of membership, as the primary candidates for the European elections. Wagenknecht managed to pull off a surprise with both personalities. “Political rivals are nervous, and they have every reason to be,” Di Masi says.
Party membership is difficult
Wagenknecht, who says he struggles with organizational issues, has a lot to do before the party votes. Over the months, the leadership team has been dealing with the legal nuances of party law and working on laws and financial regulations.
A party needs a jury, a planning committee and of course members. But according to Wagenknecht there is a luxury problem. Many interested parties wish to become members. But joining the party should not be so easy. “We have to be careful not to fall into the trap of young parties,” says Wagenknecht. That's why we keep a close eye on who becomes a member.
This was intended to prevent the new party from taking over and exploiting it for their own ends. Wagenknecht should not switch directly from the AfD to the party. In the initial batch, 450 members were accepted, Wagenknecht reported.
First, an official company conference is planned for the end of January in a former cinema in Berlin. There is still no developed party program, only the founding laws of the BSW Sangha as the precursor of the party.
Thousands of signatures must be collected
To even compete, the party's supporters must first diligently collect signatures — 4,000 to join the European elections and 1,000 each to contest the elections in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg. The signature lists should then be handed over to the Central Returning Officer or the State Returning Officer. Only then candidates can be nominated. “I am very confident that I can compete in all East German elections with complete state lists,” says Wagenknecht.
Goals are ambitious. Wagenknecht believes in a BSW faction of “reasonable strength” in the newly elected Bundestag. Di Masi goes on: “We aim to become a people's party in the medium term.”
The opinions of the already known new party members also diverge in terms of content. Instead of clear positions, Wagenknecht gives typical programming ambiguity. “There is no longer a party that supports good pensions, decent wages and social justice,” says the party leader. The war against Ukraine must end, and the policy of deterrence must return. Wagenknecht did not say how this should happen.
Instead, he works rhetorically on the Traffic Light Coalition and its “disastrous balance sheet.” The government is gambling the future with incompetence and arrogance. A “return to rationality in politics” is necessary. De Masi describes the traffic light coalition as “AfD's harvest helpers”.
No Russian money
Former IT entrepreneur and self-made billionaire Ralph Sougat is in charge of the fund. About 1.4 million euros have already been received in donations, most of which are small donations. That sounds like a lot, but it's not enough for four election campaigns.
The media reported that Russian donations would also fund the new Wagenknecht party. Suikat and Wagenknecht denied the allegations. “We have received a total of 75 euros in donations, which refer to Russia,” Suikat assured in an interview with NZZ.
Surveys show that Wagenknecht and his party have a lot of chances. According to a Yougov survey, one in three voters in East Germany could imagine voting for Wagenknecht and his colleagues. In the Insa survey for “Build” in December, BSW came to 12 percent across the country. This would mean that the new party would attract voters, especially from the AfD.
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”