“Stop all that petty crap”: Before the election of a new dual leadership at the federal party conference, the former left-wing parliamentary group leader Gysi takes his party to court.

The former Left Party parliamentary group leader Gregor Gysi has attested to an existential crisis for his party 15 years after it was founded by the PDS and WASG.

Either the left will be saved now, “or we will sink into insignificance,” said Gysi at the federal party conference in Erfurt.

He believed that the left had a place in society that no other party could replace. “The country needs democratic socialists.” Gysi was harsh on his party, for which he had been the face for decades. The crisis also resulted from the fact that it was no longer clear what was the majority and what was the minority opinion on the left. He spoke of denunciations by party members among themselves. “This is unbearable.” The 74-year-old appealed to the delegates: “Stop all the small-minded crap in our party.”

It is important that the left campaigns for peace policy and against rearmament, for social justice and equal opportunities for children and young people, for climate protection, employee interests and equality between women and men. That should also determine the work of the parliamentary group. This is more important than submitting applications for gender stars or the spelling of salutations with the capital letter “I”, said Gysi, who also received boos for it. “It’s not about changing spellings, but the circumstances.”

Left is looking for a new dual leadership

The left is electing a new leadership today in order to regain its footing after electoral defeats, arguments and allegations of sexism. On the second day of the federal party congress, not only the dual leadership, but the entire executive board is to be reassigned. This will probably also be reduced. There are ten applicants for the top duo alone. Before the election, the line of the left on Russia and the Ukraine war is to be staked out – a very controversial topic internally.

allegations of sexual assault

On Friday evening, the youth association Solid described cases of sexism and sexualized assaults in the party in an open debate and called for countermeasures. Many delegates were shocked by the accounts given by the young people instead of those affected.

For example, the employee of a member of the Bundestag, who was riding in the elevator with her boss, had to listen to the comment of another comrade: “She’s pretty, maybe a little big, but it doesn’t matter when she’s lying down.” A woman was greeted with the words: “Well, you awesome piece, you look really chic again.” A woman reported how a party member “(wanted) aggressive sex that she had not agreed to”. The young people also reported a rape without naming names.

They demanded on a banner: “Stop this criminal protection”. In the past few months, countless people with experiences of sexism have reported, said Jan Schiffer from the party youth. However, party representatives did not react adequately, but sometimes suspected conspiracy theories behind the MeToo debate on the left.

Wissler apologizes

The debate began weeks ago with an article in “Spiegel” about allegations of sexism in the Hesse state association, from which the federal chairwoman Janine Wissler also comes. Wissler said in her speech at the start of the party conference: “I would like to sincerely apologize to all the women to whom we have not been able to offer anything or little if they have been wronged.” On the fringes of the party congress, she announced new sanctions against members of the party who are guilty of assaults.

The federal spokeswoman for left-wing youth Sarah Dubiel criticized Wissler’s statements on the Phoenix broadcaster as “too little and that’s too late” and suggested that she not run for the presidency again.

Nevertheless, Wissler is applying again for a position in the dual leadership in the election of the board. Other promising candidates are the European politician Martin Schirdewan and the members of the Bundestag Heidi Reichinnek and Sören Pellmann. Wissler said she saw no sign of disagreement in the unusually large number of applications. Re-election of the management team is necessary because Wissler’s co-chair Susanne Hennig-Wellsow resigned a few weeks ago.