The New German Left: Navigating New Ideas and the Immigration Question

In the midst of the great dissatisfaction of the German population, who are demanding a ban on immigration to the country, a new left-wing party has emerged that wants to solve this problem

by Sededin Dedovic
The New German Left: Navigating New Ideas and the Immigration Question
© Welt / Youtube channel

A new political force has emerged on the German political scene, shaking the landscape with its bold ideas and experienced leadership. The "Sarah Wagenknecht Alliance - For Reason and Justice" (BSW) held its inaugural conference in Berlin, where the former leader of the Left parliamentary group, Sara Wagenknecht, introduced key figures, including her husband Oscar Lafontaine.

The party, which boasts several former members of the Left, aims to bring a new perspective to German politics. With the departure of Angela Merkel, who was definitively the first lady of both Germany and the European Union, the state's influence in the world weakened.

Although the strongest and richest country of the European Union is facing major socio-economic problems amid the migrant crisis and population shortage.

Leadership and notable figures

BSW is headed by co-presidents Sara Vagenknecht and Amira Mohamed Ali, former leader of the Left parliamentary group.

The main candidate of this party for the upcoming European elections on June 9, 2024 is the financial expert Fabio De Massi, who previously represented the Left in the European Parliament from 2014 to 2017. A very experienced line-up, already well-known and proven.

But it could also represent a certain burden for the party, because rumors could appear that it is just a simple change of jerseys for the sake of their own interests. The party faces its first big test in the September elections in three German states.

The first polls show that BSW exceeds the five percent threshold required for parliamentary representation. With the leadership of Sara Wagenknecht, the party seems to be gaining strength, distancing itself from its leftist roots by stressing: "We are not Left 2.0," as Vagenknecht stated in her speech at the party conference.

The political evolution of Sara Wagenknecht

Once a communist in her youth, Sara Wagenknecht went through a political evolution, breaking away from her roots and reshaping her image. The decision to establish the BSW symbolizes a wider crisis within the left-wing parties in Germany, both in the opposition (Left) and in the government (Social Democratic Party – SPD and the Greens).

She claims that the liberal part of the German public has perished amid the growing popularity of right-wing parties. It used to be a taboo topic, but now it seems that the old frightening spirit among Germans is returning, caused by the difficult migrant situation.

Public incendiary speeches and gatherings of right-wing parties, especially the AfD, have become a normal thing, what is most worrying is the context of that speech considering Germany's turbulent past. Recent polls indicate a decline in support for left-wing parties, which include both the opposition and the ruling parties.

The Left Party, the SPD and the Greens together garner support of 31 percent, which is comparable to the conservative opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU). The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), with its anti-immigrant stance, enjoys the support of 22 percent of the electorate.

This was unthinkable until some 10 years ago, and what is particularly worrying is the constant increase in popularity of the AfD and parties similar to it.

Angela Merkel, Olaf Scholtz© Carsten Koall / Getty Images

Werner Pacelt, a political analyst, attributes the decline in left-wing support to a disconnect with the concerns of ordinary citizens.

He suggests that left-wing parties focus too much on "woke" ideals associated with social justice and anti-racism, neglecting more immediate issues facing ordinary people, such as housing shortages. It is impossible to rent an apartment, at least not at an affordable price, for a young couple with a child in the city center.

In the last few years, it has been almost impossible for the average German to buy an apartment, the prices of which range from several million euros.

Migration policy as a point of tension

BSW aims to navigate the middle, advocating a leftist approach to social policy for the working class while adopting a more conservative stance on migration policy.

The change is in line with a wider trend among the main parties, including the SPD and the Greens, which are rethinking their positions on immigration. Recently, there has been more and more talk about the new immigration system in Germany.

Of course, this was done under great pressure from the public and the media, and it was here that BSW found its opportunity to reach its target group of voters. Sara Wagenknecht criticizes Germany's long-standing "welcoming culture" for refugees, arguing that it has led to the country being overwhelmed.

This perspective echoes sentiments expressed by the AfD, raising questions about potential overlaps between left and right ideologies. When it comes to immigration, there seems to be no difference anymore, which differs a lot from what we could see until now.

The SPD, the Greens, who once strongly supported immigration by facilitating work visas for millions of immigrants, now have similar policies as right-wing parties. They may not say it directly like AfD, but it can be concluded from their daily statements and actions.

BSW faces significant challenges in the upcoming European elections and national elections in September 2024. The party's stance on migration policy could resonate with voters concerned about the impact of globalization and migration on their lives.

Political analyst Werner Pacelt suggests that the SPD and the Greens look to Denmark and Sweden, where the Social Democrats have successfully implemented more restrictive migration policies.