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Wagenknecht: Respect for possible government participation

Sahra Wagenknecht, non-attached member and federal chairwoman of the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW), gives a press statement in the Paul Löbe House in the German Bundestag / Photo: Carsten Koall/dpa
Sahra Wagenknecht, non-attached member and federal chairwoman of the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW), gives a press statement in the Paul Löbe House in the German Bundestag / Photo: Carsten Koall/dpa

The newly founded party Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht wants to run in the state elections in Thuringia. Wagenknecht also sees opportunities for government participation - but not "for free".

BSW co-chair Sahra Wagenknecht sees chances of her newly founded party joining the government after the state elections in eastern Germany. "It is of course not unlikely in Thuringia, it is not unlikely in Saxony. In the end, it will depend on how the elections turn out," said Wagenknecht on Friday at the presentation of her party's campaign for the state elections in Thuringia.

No government at "zero cost"

However, it is not "abstractly about getting into any government", but about a new political start. "The BSW is not available as a majority procurer for 'business as usual'," said Wagenknecht. They are not running and promising that all problems will be solved immediately. "But a noticeable new wind must blow. Something has to change," she said. The appearance in Erfurt was BSW's first official press conference in Thuringia.

Wagenknecht emphasized that they did not want to damage the credibility of the new party by going into any government "at zero cost". It is an unusual situation to found a party in January and possibly have a chance of participating in government in the fall. "We also have great respect for that." In a Civey survey published on Thursday, 27 percent of Thuringian voters surveyed said they could imagine voting for BSW in the state elections in the fall. When the survey was conducted last year, the party had not yet been founded, so the authors themselves point out that the data on this should be viewed with caution.

Differentiation from the AfD

Wagenknecht made it clear that in the event of BSW participation in government, she would like "a state government to take a different position in the Bundesrat and also publicly and say clearly: We need a different foreign policy here." When asked by a journalist where she saw similarities and differences between her party and the AfD, Wagenknecht warned against making the AfD "the reference point for politics". There are issues where the AfD addresses real problems. "When you see the AfD here in Thuringia with Mr. Höcke, I can only pity anyone who doesn't see the differences. Höcke really is a right-wing extremist who very, very clearly represents nationalist themes."

Wolf as a "top woman"

Eisenach's mayor Katja Wolf recently said in an interview with "Freies Wort" that she was not afraid of government responsibility. As Lord Mayor of Eisenach since 2012, she knows what government action means: "I have responsibility for a medium-sized administrative organization, that's not foreign to me, and I'm happy to do it. However, that explicitly does not mean that I aspire to a particular office," she told the newspaper. "It rather means that I am convinced that we are people who could govern." Wolf is the most prominent BSW appointment in Thuringia to date. Minister President Bodo Ramelow (Left Party) had tried to persuade her to remain in the Left Party and offered her the prospect of a ministerial job, but Wolf stood by her decision to switch.

Wagenknecht said in Erfurt: "Katja Wolf is our top woman". Wolf herself, however, left open whether she will lead BSW into the election campaign as the top candidate. It is also still unclear whether Wolf will become chairwoman of the state association. She said at the press conference that this would be discussed at a closed meeting on March 10.

State association to be founded in March

Wagenknecht announced the founding of a Thuringian BSW state association on March 15. A board is also to be elected at the founding meeting in Eisenach. A state party conference is then expected to take place in Erfurt on May 4.

The newly founded party wants to prepare the election campaign for the state elections on September 1 with an online campaign. "We don't have an election program for Thuringia yet, we want to develop one together with the people of Thuringia," said Wagenknecht. People could use a portal to prioritize topics such as education, agriculture or climate protection and thus determine what is most important to them. Citizens will also be able to suggest topics themselves. "These contributions will be incorporated into our election programs," said Wagenknecht.

Own candidates in local elections

Wolf confirmed that BSW intends to run in the local elections in Thuringia. As things stand, the party will be standing in the district council elections in the Wartburgkreis, Gotha and Greiz districts. "In all likelihood, we will run our own candidates in the Weimarer Land and Sonneberg districts," said Wolf. In the city council elections in Bad Salzungen, Bleicherode, Gotha and Zeulenroda-Triebes, they want to run with their own people, and in Zeulenroda-Triebes they are also running for mayor.

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