Why do conservatives still refer to the Left as the “successor party to the SED”? Today’s party has hardly anything to do with the old PDS. Instead of locally rooted realists from the East, the tone has long been set by activists from Western backgrounds who are committed to climate protection, the fight against the right (or what they consider to be right) and open borders – and for whom the social and economic interests of the depopulated and affluent regions of the East are comparatively unimportant.

No one embodies this change more than the Left’s co-leading candidate for the European elections. Climate and migration activist Carola Rackete did not even join the party, and in Brussels she clearly wants to get involved as a movement representative rather than as a parliamentarian.

The fact that the party leadership around Martin Schirdewan chose her as a figurehead for the European election campaign shows how disorientated the Karl Liebknecht House is. On the one hand, the nomination can only be seen as a middle finger to the traditional electorate in the East, who have little interest in open borders and climate activism.

On the other hand, the appointment of Carola Rackete also shows how little the Left Party values ​​itself. In order to grab a few headlines with the well-known surprise candidate, the party surrendered itself completely to the whims of an overwhelmed political novice who, before the Left Party’s nomination conference, gave tips for a new name and made accusations about the supposedly inadequate processing of the SED past.

It wasn’t worth it. The Left Party received a mere 2.7 percent of the vote in the European elections on Sunday. The party is sinking into insignificance. A decline that has been attributable to individual people for years.

For example, Clara Bünger. Growing up in Freiberg, Saxony, as the daughter of immigrants from the West, the refugee activist pushed trade unionist Sabine Zimmermann off the state list for the 2021 federal election.

In an interview, Bünger was asked what she wanted to achieve for voters in the Erzgebirge, a region with socioeconomic problems where the AfD is achieving election results that are worthy of being a national party? She responded with a bored demand for wage equalization between East and West, before moving on to her actual topic: (refugee) families should not be “deported under cover of darkness”.

She wants to give her first speech in the Bundestag on the “militarization” of the EU border security agency Frontex and the “disenfranchisement of those seeking protection at the EU’s external border.” Only recently, Bünger confirmed in an interview that she is against deportations in principle – future knife attackers will be happy about that. How do you think this profiling was received by voters?

A meager eight percent of voters gave Bünger their first vote. Her predecessors received more than 20 percent. The Left Party performed so poorly overall that Bünger did not even make it into the Bundestag via the state list. She only got there because the former party leader Katja Kipping became Social Senator in Berlin.

One would think that such an unsuccessful politician would initially take a seat on the back benches. Instead, in February, Bünger even wanted to become chair of the Left Party group in the Bundestag and only narrowly failed.

The party is only represented there at all because the eastern veterans Gregor Gysi, Sören Pellmann and Gesine Lötzsch each won direct mandates in the 2021 federal election and thus bypassed the five percent threshold that the Left Party could not overcome. The old East Germans win the mandates, and the activists who alienate voters set the tone in terms of content. Of course, Bünger was also an important supporter of the Rackete nomination.

In the European elections on Sunday, the former people’s party in the East got its comeuppance for its course. Only in Thuringia and Berlin did the Left Party get more than five percent of the vote. The result is a catastrophe for the Left.

Sabine Zimmermann is now active in the party of Sahra Wagenknecht, who founded her own party at the beginning of the year after leaving the Left Party. For years, the supposedly progressive wing of the Left Party blamed Wagenknecht for the poor election results – because she rightly pointed out that the Left Party had become too woke. She campaigned for a more realistic migration policy and generally wanted to make offers to traditional voters rather than win over big-city do-gooders for the party. With these attitudes, Wagenknecht was scaring away voters, it was said.

But who was really a burden to whom? Wagenknecht of the Left Party or the other way around? Well, on Sunday Wagenknecht and her new party won more than six percent of the vote, more than twice as good an election result as the Left Party.

In all East German states except Berlin, the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) achieved double-digit results in the European elections, even though the party has only existed for six months. The BSW is the new left-wing force and the new East German party – because the Left Party has decided to degenerate into an activist clique.

Voter migration shows that 470,000 former Left Party voters have defected to the BSW – and that these voters are just as clearly in favor of social policies as they are in favor of a more restrictive immigration policy and against further arms deliveries to Ukraine. Wagenknecht was right. Voters do not want a Green Party 2.0.

Even if this realization were to sink in among the decision-makers of the Left Party, a course correction would be difficult (especially with the current personnel). If the party were to move further to the center on sociopolitical issues, it would be tantamount to admitting that Wagenknecht was right in her criticism of the direction of her former party. The Left Party leadership cannot afford this loss of face.