The Left Chairwoman Janine Wissler has been confirmed in office despite criticism from within the party. At the Federal Party Congress of the Left, the 41-year-old prevailed with 57.5 percent of the votes in a combat candidacy. MEP Martin Schirdewan was elected co-leader with 61.3 percent.
Wissler has led the party since February last year. Her co-boss Susanne Hennig-Wellsow resigned in the face of massive election defeats and a sexism scandal on the left. Wissler was confronted with allegations, especially from left-wing youth, that there had been omissions in dealing with the MeToo cases in the left.
In view of this criticism, her re-election at the party congress was by no means certain. But with an extremely combative speech on Friday, she was able to get many delegates to the party congress behind her.
Against Wissler, the 34-year-old member of the Bundestag Heidi Reichinnek took the place intended for women in the dual leadership. She received 35.9 percent of the votes. The left chairwoman in Lower Saxony sent a signal with the campaign candidacy. In her introductory speech, the women’s policy spokeswoman said she wanted to do “many things better” than before.
Scandal about handling MeToo cases
Immediately after the election of the two party leaders, there was a scandal in Erfurt because two victims of sexualized assaults sharply criticized the vote for Wissler. One of the women said, on the verge of tears, that she didn’t know how she could stay in the party now. These requests to speak and above all the timing met with criticism from other delegates.
The evening before, the left had dealt with the topic of sexism and MeToo at their party conference. The youth association solid criticized the way the party leadership dealt with those affected.
The newly elected co-party leader Schirdewan has been leading the Left Group in the European Parliament for three years. The 46-year-old brought up this experience in his application speech at the party conference. In the EU Parliament, the doctor of political science dealt primarily with the topics of economy, taxes and money laundering.
The Leipzig member of the Bundestag Sören Pellmann had also applied for the party chairmanship. He was considered the preferred candidate in the camp surrounding Bundestag member Sahra Wagenknecht. He came up with 31.7 percent.
The party executive around Wissler prevailed on Saturday in the debate about the attitude of the left to Russia. A majority of delegates spoke out in favor of unequivocally condemning Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.