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Far left Die Linke party loses swathes of its supporters

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Issue 2774
Die Linkes annual party conference
Die Linke annual party conference (Pic: DIE LINKE/Flickr)

What went so wrong the far left Die Linke party? it has slumped from 69 MPs to 39.  It has lost more than 2 million votes, almost half of its total in 2017. It is a historic defeat.

The answer lies primarily in its leadership and the concessions they’ve made in a failed bid to be more “electable”.

Too often they presented Die Linke as part of the political establishment. They talked up the possibility of a “Red-Red” alliance with the SPD, or a “Red-Red-Green” coalition also involving the Greens.

In doing so party leaders barely mention that both the other parties are committed to neoliberal capitalism. They stayed silent so as not to endanger coalition talks.

Instead of casting the party as an anti-capitalist and anti-racist, insurgent force, Die Linke’s leaders became completely fixated on parliamentary politics.

And, party bosses also vacillated on the crucial question of immigration.

As a result, some migrants’ rights activists refused to vote for the party and told people to boycott it at the election.

And, in every regional state where Die Linke has been in government, it has supported decisions that are completely opposed to the party’s goals—including privatisation, support for coal, and deportation of migrants. The result of this political confusion can be seen in the results. The party shed votes to other parties. Around 600,000 went to the Labour-like SPD and around 440,000 to the Greens.

Both parties had been front‑runners in the race to become chancellor and were able to persuade others to unite behind them against the right.

But the party also lost 370,000 votes to “non-voters” and even 100,000 votes to the Nazis of the AfD.

If Die Linke is to stand any chance of a meaningful recovery, there will have to be a reckoning with the party’s right wing leadership.

Thanks to Phil Butland for additional research. For an article by the Marx21 socialist group on the Die Linke results (in German) go here

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