Die Linke describes itself as ‘a new left party, a democratic socialist left, comprised of those of different political, ideological and religious backgrounds.’ The party is liberal, inclusive and fairly new. It has earned a reputation as one of Germany’s main political parties, despite not holding a realistic chance of forming a government.
Photo: ThecentreCZ - Own work, Public Domain.
That is not to say the party is insignificant. It holds governmental experience at state level and could be part of a future coalition, depending on the outcome of the federal election in September. So, it is useful to understand how the party emerged and what it stands for.
With this in mind, here is everything you need to know about Die Linke.
History of the Party:
Die Linke is a relatively young party, founded only in 2007. It is often seen as, and ultimately criticised for, having descended from the GDR’s Socialist Unity Party (SED).
It was formed through the merging of the Party of Democratic Socialism, the successor party of the SED, and Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (WASG), a western German movement that attracted trade unionists and dissatisfied SPD members, who felt alienated by the welfare cuts introduced by Gerhard Schröder.
It was through its association with the western German movement that the party was able partly to shake off its negative association with the GDR and achieve electoral success.
The party has more than 60,000 members and is active in municipal councils, state parliaments, the Bundestag and the European Parliament. Die Linke has also formed government coalitions with the Social Democrats and the Greens in Berlin and Bremen.
Thuringia may be considered the party’s most important state, as it leads the governing coalition and holds the premiership there.
Party Politics and Election Promises:
Unsurprisingly, Die Linke’s stronghold is in East Germany, the home to many former communists who once supported the GDR. However, the party has also struck a chord with so-called protest voters, who are disenchanted with Germany’s more traditional parties.
The party is well-known for its more radical views, opposing foreign deployments of the Bundeswehr and the NATO alliance. Die Linke also calls for more direct democracy and socio-ecological solutions in politics, and has led the fight against racism, right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism in Germany.
Die Linke wishes to transform Germany’s energy consumption by introducing more renewable sources. Coal should be phased out by 2030 at the latest, and the country should be made climate-neutral by 2035.
Rail travel would be cheaper under Die Linke and local public transport could even be made free of charge. Domestic flights of less than 500 kilometres would also be banned.