Sahra Wagenknecht: German politician launches ‘left-wing conservative’ party

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Sahra Wagenknecht
Image caption,Sahra Wagenknecht is highly critical of migration

German politician Sahra Wagenknecht has launched a party which she says will appeal to culturally conservative and economically left-wing voters.

The BSW supports a higher minimum wage as well as an end to net-zero policies and weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

Mrs Wagenknecht is one of the best-known figures in German politics and the launch represents a significant change to the political landscape.

The 54-year-old said people were losing faith in mainstream parties.

She was born in communist East Germany, to a German mother and Iranian father, and joined the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) in 1989, a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

After German reunification, she joined the successor party to the SED, which eventually merged into the left-wing Die Linke.

Elected first to the European Parliament and then the Bundestag, the German parliament, she grew increasingly strident in her criticism of immigration, particularly after 2015, when about a million people from Syria and other countries arrived in Germany.

“She established a strong reputation and credibility for her anti-immigration positions and cultural conservatism,” says Sarah Wagner, a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast.

Mrs Wagenknecht’s high profile helped her develop personal support, particularly in eastern Germany.

In October, she quit Die Linke, saying: “the way things are going… our country will be unrecognisable in 10 years.”

Political scientist Cas Mudde says electoral research shows that there is a “significant” electorate with left-wing conservative views. But he adds that “most of these voters care more about their right-wing cultural views than their left-wing economic views”.

The pitch from the BSW – or Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht – will be tested first in the European elections in July.

However, three state elections in eastern Germany in September are likely to provide a stronger indication of how the new party will fare.

Ms Wagner told the BBC that the emergence of the BSW could tempt voters away from the AfD, jeopardising the far-right party’s hopes of coming first in a state election for the first time.

“The AfD is going to be in quite a bit of trouble if this project is successful,” Ms Wagner says.

The far-right party has been hitting record highs in the polls, consistently scoring above some mainstream parties.

The BSW has some €1.4m ($1.5m; £1.2m) funding available at launch, according to its treasurer.

Parties strongly associated with individuals have a poor record in German politics. In 2000, Ronald Schill, a judge, set up an insurgent party, which garnered significant support in Hamburg before collapsing a few years later.

But at least for the foreseeable future, http://sayurkole.com politics in the EU’s largest economy looks to be even further fractured, with voters having the choice between an unprecedented eight major parties.

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