Left-wing nationalist BSW in Germany: media analysis overview and recent setbacks

Left-wing nationalists are on the rise across Europe. In this article, we review media coverage of the BSW party and analysts’ conclusions. They have the potential to establish their own political group within the European Parliament, where they could compete with the far right on issues related to migration and negotiations with Russia. German politician Sahra Wagenknecht, former Die Linke leader, is now running for her own party, is one of these leaders, Euronews reported.

According to Euronews analysts, despite their differing visions on certain issues, potential affiliates of the far-right populist and nationalist left could find common ground over blocking the Green Deal, pushing for a foreign policy of appeasement with Russia, and slowing down migration, presented as a cause of unemployment.

Can a new left-wing parliamentary group be created?

But the efforts of Sahra Wagenknecht’s new left-wing conservative alliance (BSW) to found a new parliamentary group in the European Parliament remain vague. The other left-wing parties seem to be keeping their distance, Euractiv wrote

Last month, the alliance announced that it had found enough partners to form a new left-wing faction in the European Parliament. This excited the Left because a new faction led by BSW could threaten the existence of the existing European Left faction (GUE/NGL).

However, as none of the alleged allies has yet officially acknowledged BSW’s plans, it remains unclear who their partners might be. The left suspects that this is an electoral maneuver on Wagenknecht’s part.

Sahra Wagenknecht is known to have put more emphasis than other leftists on resisting arms supplies to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia. They claim that this would harm European consumers. Some have therefore labeled BSW pro-Russian.

Unaffiliated parties such as Slovakia’s ruling Social Democrats (Smer) and Italy’s Five Star Movement (M5S) are among the potential partners.

A representative from Smer told Euractiv that they were not negotiating with BSW. The same applies to the Five Star Movement, according to the outlet.

Setback for Sahra Wagenknecht over comments on floods and Ukraine

Sahra Wagenknecht tried to make political gains out of the catastrophic floods in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. But the attempt backfired, as one German media outlet wrote.

Sahra Wagenknecht calls for cutting aid to Ukraine: “Instead of fueling the war in Ukraine with billions in endless taxes, we need this money to support people affected by disasters,” Sahra Wagenknecht demanded in a message on social networks. However, a flood assistant responded with a strong message.

Dear laziest MPs,” he replied, alluding to Wagenknecht’s frequent absences from the Bundestag. “I’ve now been on duty as a volunteer fireman for over twelve hours. Spare yourself your disgusting divisions! Neither Germans nor Ukrainians are worth a damn to you! Greetings from the deluge.

The X profile of the man from the Upper Palatinate in Bavaria shows his solidarity with the Ukrainian and Georgian people against Putin. Both national flags adorn his profile.

But it’s not just the firefighters who are fighting back. Sahra Wagenknecht is also being roundly criticized elsewhere for her contribution to flooding. The environmental protection organization WWF reacts critically:

“Your election manifesto says otherwise; WWF refers to its own audit to find out which party is committed to sustainable climate policy and nature conservation ahead of the European elections.” According to this WWF audit, the BSW ranks right at the bottom behind the FDP, CDU/CSU, SPD, Left, and Greens when it comes to specific program demands, a German outler wrote.

Wagenknecht’s attack on public broadcasting

In another setback, Sahra Wagenknecht and her new BSW party launched an attack on public broadcasting. Referring to the demand for reform of public broadcasting, the party leader expresses massive criticism of ARD and ZDF programming. “Scandals, mismanagement, and one-sided reporting have destroyed trust,” Wagenknecht said. The German Journalists’ Association responded strongly, speaking of AfD populism and methods. 

The federal president of the Association of German Journalists (DJV), Mika Beuster, rejected Wagenknecht’s attack and accused alliance founder Sahra Wagenknecht of populism. “With her media reprimands, she is riding the populist wave of the AfD and other enemies of the media,” explained the DJV president. 

Wagenknecht’s stance on Russia and Ukraine

Wagenknecht, who has been repeatedly criticized for his attitude toward the war in Ukraine, asserts that ‘Putin has no chance of invading Germany‘. The argument serves to support BSW’s position against German and NATO support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion.

The ceasefire in the Russia-Ukraine war is the party’s objective, as Wagenknecht has stated. Wagenknecht advises using dialogue and including Gerhard Schröder as a mediator. This declaration is weird, since everybody knows that Schröder, the former chancellor of Germany, is close to the Russian leadership. Schröder has worked for Russian state-owned energy companies, including Nord Stream AG, Rosneft, and Gazprom.

After the Russian attack on Ukraine in February 2022, many people in Germany feared that their security would also be threatened. The fear is that once Putin has taken control of Ukraine, he will turn his attention more to the nearest Eastern European countries, Der Westen wrote. Many NATO countries believe that Ukraine is also defending Western security. But Wagenknecht sees things differently. 

Her colleagues also criticize the Western stance in the war in Ukraine. Sevim Dağdelen, a senior BSW official, said in an interview with “Westend Verlag” about NATO that it is “bringing us to the brink of a third world war.” It is waging a “proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.” Dağdelen interviewed Florian Warweg, the former online editor of the German edition of Russia Today. Another sign of Russian influence.

In its article “Where the Russian flag is crossed with the German flag,” the media outlet FAZ quotes Wagenknecht: “They say that ‘nasty Russian gas’ is no longer allowed to be bought, but American fracked gas is, as well as Arab gas. It’s a hypocritical double standard and shouldn’t be taken seriously,” she said. But she forgets the reason for the ban on Russian gas: Putin’s war in Europe.

Back in 2022, Sahra Wagenknecht and Alice Schwarzer have launched a petition calling for peace negotiations with Russia and halting weapons supply to Ukraine. Its opponents pointed out that without military assistance, Ukraine would not be able to defend itself against attacks by the Russian invading troops, which could lead to the destruction and occupation of new areas.

In 2017, Wagenknecht, advocated for Germany to leave NATO and set up a new alliance, including Russia. Wagenknecht is the central figure of leaked Russian documents published by the Washington Post that show the Kremlin’s efforts to create in Germany a so-called anti-war coalition among far-left and far-right parties to stop Berlin’s support for Ukraine.

Whether Germans support a new kind of left-wing party—nationalist and populist—that sometimes shares views with the far right and makes pro-Russian statements will become clear in a few days, following the European elections.

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