They are two increasingly unheard of in their parties. Those who have been shining out more recently than they could convince with their heading internally. Both are concerned that the Left Party and the SPD will be forgotten because they have lost or are unable to reach many former voters.
And so former SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel cannot fail to do anything when he recommends a remarkable interview with former left-wing faction leader Sahra Wagenknecht over the weekend. “Remarkable and clever thoughts”, praises Gabriel and adds on Twitter: “Reading tip for majority-oriented social democrats and leftists.
What is considered the left today has little to do with the traditional concerns of left-wing politics, Wagenknecht told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. “Instead of social inequality, poverty wages and low pensions, left-wing debates these days often revolve around language sensitivities, gender stars and lifestyle issues.
Those for whom left-wing parties should really be there, namely the workers, the lower middle class and the poor, are therefore turning away. Left parties are rarely elected by workers and the unemployed. It is quite a settlement, she does not expect a new direction when Janine Wissler and Susanne Hennig-Wellsow are chosen this weekend as successors to Bernd Riexinger and Katja Kipping as the new party leaders.
Like Gabriel, she lacks an inner turmoil in the SPD over the string of electoral defeats on the left, with the exception of Thuringia; thanks to Bodo Ramelow’s pragmatic course. Neither, however, was able to stop the negative trend in political responsibility, unlike the Greens, things have been going downhill for the left and the SPD for years, and the hope of a red-red-green majority seems like an illusion or the polls and internal wing fights .
“The left-wing parties have become scientific parties”, Wagenknecht said in an interview with SZ. Unlike in the past, it is no longer the underprivileged, but the higher educated and the higher earners who generally vote on the left. Her verdict: “That is a sign of poverty for the left if it no longer reaches the poor.”
Academic instead of workers’ parties
What both sides have in common is that many officials are now more entrenched in the academic middle class, and working-class biographies have become rare in the Bundestag as well. “That is why debates are held that ignore the problems of a pensioner who has to get by on 900 euros a month. Or someone who carries parcels up the stairs every day ”, says Wagenknecht.
She criticizes climate debates where there is too much discussion about organic meat and e-cars than about the climate damage caused by globalization with “its endless transport routes and dirty container ships”. With its clear rejection of support for the auto industry, which still relies on combustion engines, the SPD is also trying to steal the green stocks – the collateral damage is an ongoing alienation from industrial unions.
Former SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel also doubts the SPD’s prioritization Photo: dpa
Disputes between refugees and the climate
Wagenknecht, who, unlike Gabriel, is still in the Bundestag but no longer has any party-political ambitions, has always been infected, especially by her course in refugee and migration policy. The view that immigration should be limited is racism according to the left.
That is absurd. “Migration is disastrous for the countries of origin, because it is usually the higher educated who emigrate. … If we really wanted to help those in need, we should help on the spot. “It is also incorrect to say that it is hardly possible to teach in a school class where more than half of the children do not speak German.” or that we in Germany also have a problem with radical Islamism ”. If leftists ignore all this, it shouldn’t be surprising that many citizens are flooding into the AfD.
Merkel: “Path to Insignificance”
Political scientist Wolfgang Merkel has been involved in the development of the parties for years, he is also a member of the SPD Fundamental Values Commission. Today, a distinction must be made between a cultural and a socio-economic left, that is, the academic environment, and that which is primarily about distribution issues. “One of the tragedies is that you no longer manage to bring these environments together properly,” says Merkel. Today, certain groups look at the crowd with “a certain cultural disdain” and often no longer understand each other.
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A bottle collector in Germany Photo: imago images / Joko
A global phenomenon
Ultimately it is a global phenomenon of alienation; many who feel left behind often no longer feel represented in the political discourse. “There is a deep-seated cultural disdain for these types of traditionalist lifestyles,” says Merkel, that is, for those for whom issues other than gender-sensitive language are important, and who have to make ends meet in some way.
From Merkel’s point of view, the SPD’s dilemma is that a perception solidifies that does not always resist reality. There is a traditionalist in the federal government with a minister of labor, Hubertus Heil, who makes classic social democratic politics, the keyword basic pension.
Minister of Finance and SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz are also in the middle for a pragmatic course. “But often you don’t get through at all. The perception of Social Democracy is different, one that is stuck: that it pursues the post-material Greens, for example, ”Merkel says. However, the SPD is not chosen by the groups it follows. “I think that’s the sure way to political insignificance.”
However, tackling the socio-economic issue alone is no longer possible in the 21st century. “We have a climate issue, an economic question. But that should be discussed much less on the ascetic side, rather the question should be asked more: what technical possibilities do we have to deal with it? “He sees this with great concern about the Social Democrats,” they have a light affinity, not to propose offers, but to make bans. That is not enough for a party with a great tradition of Enlightenment. “
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Wolfgang Merkel, long-term director of the “Democracy and Democratization” section of the Berlin Science Center for … Photo: David Ausserhofer / WZB
AfD shows the SPD and the left side
The discourses are led by academics, which gives the impression that, for example, parity laws are supported. In Brandenburg, they failed again and that was actually the fatal thing: the left and the SPD just failed permanently through administrative and constitutional courts, especially on complaints from right-wing parties like the AfD, which they could use to publicly present and discredit. “Very few constitutional parties are suing and they get justice. That’s devastating.”
He also finds the imminent silence in the SPD indicative of the proposals of the designated new SPD chairman Franziska Giffey, who advocates, for example, a more business-friendly policy and a tougher approach to left-wing extremism in the city. “Of course it has to win the elections, it is useful as a trademark,” Merkel emphasizes. But of course “you don’t want that, certainly not in the left-wing Berlin SPD.”