Change of leadership at the left: female dual leadership to come?

Change of leadership at the left: female dual leadership to come?

After more than eight years with katja kipping and bernd riexinger at the helm, the left is facing a change in personnel.

The two party leaders announced one after the other on friday evening and saturday that they would not run for another term in office. At their party congress in erfurt on 30. October to 1. November the left must now reposition itself.

A dual leadership with two women also seems possible: the parliamentary group leaders from hesse and thuringia, janine wissler and susanne hennig-wellsow, are seen as promising candidates.

Kipping (now 42) and riesinger (64) took over the party leadership in 2012. At that time, the left was on the verge of splitting after an unprecedented power struggle between competing wings. Riexinger prevailed at the time against the current parliamentary group leader dietmar bartsch.

Under the trade unionist from baden wurttemberg and the slavist from saxony, the left came in at 8.6 and 9.2 percent respectively in the 2013 and 2017 federal elections. Today she is between 6 and 9 percent in the polls. Kipping in particular remained controversial as party leader. She had a tough fight with the left-wing sahra wagenknecht, who has since stepped down as party leader and was replaced by amira mohamed ali.

The withdrawal of the top duo does not come as a surprise. According to the statutes, no party office should be held for longer than eight years. Kipping also justified her withdrawal with respect for this rule: "inner-party democracy means that every office is a temporary office – and that is a good thing."Eight years at the head of the party had also taken a lot out of her. It is "time to start something new".

Riexinger, a left-wing member of the party, wrote to the executive board that he was proud "that we have built up and developed the left into an all-german party that is now a stable force in the federal german party system". He will "continue to work with enthusiasm and optimism for a strong left".


The left actually wanted to elect a new party executive board in june. The party conference was postponed to the weekend of 30 september because of the corona pandemic. October to 1. November postponed. Who could succeed kipping and riexinger is still unclear. The names of wissler and hennig-wellsow are mentioned most often. There has never been a female leadership duo on the left before. According to the statutes, however, this is possible.

Hennig-wellsow already spoke out in favor of such a model. "I can imagine a female dual leadership very well," she told the german press agency in erfurt. But she is open about her own candidacy: "I’ll speak for myself. A decision has not yet been made." Wissler would not comment on personnel speculation. "But today is the day to say thank you and not to get immediately into the debate about succession."

Like kipping, neither politician can be assigned to either of the two wings of the moderate reformers and left-wing fundamentalists. From the left wing, deputy party chairman ali al-dailami from hesse is being considered as a possible candidate. The reformers give federal parliamentary party leader jan korte a chance. In addition, the former federal managing director matthias hohn is named from this camp.


It is also unclear what kipping and riexinger will do now. Kipping is said to have ambitions for the chairmanship of the bundestag parliamentary group. "I would like to continue to take responsibility for new left-wing majorities," she wrote in her resignation announcement. "In which position i will do this will be discussed at a later point in time"."By "new left-wing majorities" could be meant a coalition with the SPD and the greens – and by "responsibility" a leading role in the election campaign, perhaps even the top candidacy.

In any case, left-wing SPD politician kevin kuhnert buried the announcement on twitter: "glad that you can continue to be counted on."It is unlikely that riexinger will seek another top post. He told the "stuttgarter zeitung" that he wants to remain a member of the bundestag. "There is a lot to be done for the stuttgart region. And I will always be a strong left with a strong effort."

For this monday, the two party leaders plan a press conference. On thursday, the left-wing parliamentary group in the bundestag will convene for a closed-door meeting in potsdam. Also there the personnel reorganization could be a topic.

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