Germany, Sahra Wagenknecht Presents Her Party as Protests Escalate Across the Country

In Germany, blocked by farmers’ protests, former member of Die Linke (The Left) in the Bundestag Sahra Wagenknecht introduced her party, which aims to overturn the politics of Berlin. Europe’s former powerhouse continues to sputter, with industrial production data showing a 0.7% month-on-month fall in November, down 1.9% in the September-November quarter from the previous quarter, while the comparison of November 2023 with November 2022 produces figures, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office (STBA), to be as high as 4.8%. An endless crisis that is also shaking the German political system.

The new formation bears the name of the founder of the “Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht” (Sahra Wagenknecht’s Alliance) and will be on the ballot in the next European elections that will take place in June, where the leader will not represent herself, as well as in the September elections in the states of Saxony, Thuringia, and Brandenburg. The first national congress will take place on January 27 in Berlin.

“The majority have lost confidence in these consolidated parties,” Wagenknecht explained, emphasizing that the goal of her alliance (which includes former Die Linke members, such as Amira Mohamed Ali and Fabio De Masi, as well as former Social Democrats such as Thomas Geisel) is “to radically change the spectrum of German parties and primarily to radically change the politics.” The positions are clearly left-wing on economic and social policy, while on issues of immigration and foreign policy (for example, relations with Russia), they are close to the positions of the Alternative for Germany, another group that undermines historical German centrism. The recession and economic crisis have also turned into a political crisis for the leadership led by Olaf Scholz, who is clearly unpopular.

Returning to the “tractor” protests, on January 8, some 700 farm vehicles approached the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, while others set up in Cologne, Bremen, and Hamburg, blocking roads and highways to protest the government’s decision to cut diesel tax breaks and, more generally, challenging the government itself. The “Bauern,” or farmers, have announced a series of further demonstrations also challenging European measures, such as the Farm to Fork program, which provides for giving up at least 10% of agricultural land and converting a quarter of it to organic farming and clear reduction in the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

The demonstrations were generally peaceful, allaying government fears of possible unrest. But Scholz, who confirmed the measures taken that sparked the protest, now also faces announced protests by truck drivers and a three-day protest by train operators, who will block trains, placing German mobility in a serious crisis.