Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW): unusual left-wing and pro-Russian stance

Sahra Wagenknecht, a prominent figure in German politics, is known for her radical left-wing stance and controversial views. 

As she attempts to secure a seat in the European Parliament, her unorthodox views and support for Russian narratives have set her apart from traditional left-wing politicians. 

Wagenknecht has made headlines for advocating Germany leaving NATO and forming an alliance with Russia. 

Her new political party, Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW), stands out for its unique blend of leftist and nationalist policies.

Anti-West and pro-Russian stance 

Born in East Germany, Sahra Wagenknecht quickly rose through the ranks of the Left party, becoming a leading member of its most radical wing, the Communist Platform. 

Her political journey is marked by a steadfast commitment to leftist ideals, advocating for wealth redistribution, increased state investment, and a strong social safety net. However, her approach to international relations, particularly her pro-Russian sentiments, has been controversial.

In 2017, Wagenknecht publicly called for Germany to exit NATO and establish a new alliance that includes Russia. 

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Wagenknecht was a prominent defender of Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, arguing that while the United States was trying to “conjure up” an invasion of Ukraine, “Russia has no interest in marching into Ukraine.”. 

After Russia launched an all-out war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Wagenknecht said that her judgment had been wrong. Wagenknecht opposed sanctions against Russia over the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and, in a speech in September 2022, accused the German government of “launching an unprecedented economic war against our most important energy supplier.”

Russia supplied over half of Germany’s gas before the war. In May, the Left voted in favor of economic sanctions against Russia. 

Her speech was applauded by both the leadership of the Left Party and the far-right Alternative for Germany. Her speech prompted the resignation of two high-profile party members.

These efforts aimed to undermine support for Ukraine, a strategy that aligns with Wagenknecht’s calls for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to oppose supplying weapons to Ukraine to help the country repel the Russian invasion. 

Wagenknecht’s pro-Russian stance is also evident in her co-authorship of the “Manifesto for Peace,” a petition on advocating for peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine without preconditions (such as Russian invading troops to leave captured territories, for example). 

While condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the manifesto avoids explicitly criticizing Russian aggression or calling for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. This ambiguous stance has drawn criticism for backing Russian propaganda narratives and failing to hold Russia accountable for its crimes.

In April 2023, The Washington Post published details of Russian plans to undermine German support for Ukraine by forming an anti-war coalition, which included Wagenknecht. 

Her collaboration with far-right elements, including joint pro-Russia rallies with the AfD, has further underscored her controversial political alliances. The AfD, known for its strong ties to the Kremlin, has members who have accepted all-expenses-paid trips to Russia and often vote against anti-Russian resolutions in the European Parliament.

Pro-Russian German media outlets, such as, have portrayed Wagenknecht’s activities and policies in a positive light, emphasizing her calls for peace and criticizing Western policies towards Russia. 

This favorable coverage aligns with Kremlin narratives, further complicating Wagenknecht’s position within the German political spectrum. Her collaboration with far-right elements and her ambiguous stance on key issues have drawn criticism for backing Russian propaganda and undermining European unity against authoritarian influences.

Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht: blend of leftist and nationalist views

Discontent with the Left Party led Wagenknecht to form a new political party, Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW), in 2024. The BSW combines elements of her former party with some views from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). 

Traditionally, left-wing radicals support open borders and inclusive migration policies, advocating for the protection and integration of immigrants and refugees. They view immigration as a humanitarian issue and oppose any form of restriction that could be perceived as xenophobic or far-right. 

The BSW, like the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), calls for significant restrictions on migration policies, albeit in less severe terms. 

The party argues that Germany is overwhelmed by a large number of immigrants, and the resulting strain on the housing market and social services disproportionately affects the poor. 

This stance echoes AfD’s narrative, which traditionally opposes immigration on the grounds of national and cultural identity.

Wagenknecht’s alignment with far-right views on immigration contradicts these fundamental left-wing principles, causing friction within the broader leftist movement. This hybrid party advocates for a significant redistribution of social benefits, extensive state investments, and a new rapprochement with Russia. 

BSW fights for votes

As the BSW runs in the European Parliament elections, it faces a challenging political landscape. The party’s unique blend of leftist and nationalist policies complicates its appeal to traditional left-wing voters, who may be wary of its hybrid stance. 

Wagenknecht’s readiness to adopt certain far-right views has alienated some of her former supporters. Pro-Russian media in Germany have portrayed Wagenknecht’s activities and policies in a positive light, emphasizing her calls for peace and criticizing the West’s response to Russia’s war. 

With a relatively small membership base, the party aims to enter local parliaments in Saxony and Thuringia, leveraging a mix of former left-wing politicians and political newcomers. Despite ideological differences, the party’s willingness to potentially form coalitions with the CDU highlights its pragmatic approach to gaining political influence. 

However, internal disagreements and the need for cohesive election programs have posed significant hurdles. Wagenknecht’s controversial pro-Russian views and contradictory stance on migration can undermine her hopes for success.

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