Wagenknecht in favour of cooperation with Christian Democrats and far-right Alternative for Germany

When the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) was founded, the World Socialist Web Site explained that the new outfit advocated a “right-wing, pro-capitalist” programme. This has since been confirmed in no uncertain terms. In an extensive interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the mouthpiece of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Wagenknecht not only declares her willingness to form a coalition with the Christian Democrats (CDU), but also shows she is open to working with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Sahra Wagenknecht [Photo by Raimond Spekking (via Wikimedia Commons) / CC BY-SA 4.0]

When asked whom she could imagine forming a government with after the state elections in East Germany in the autumn, Wagenknecht replied, “That is a question of negotiation once the election results are available. Then there will be talks, certainly also with the CDU.”

Wagenknecht’s willingness to form a coalition with the CDU debunks all claims by the BSW to represent an alternative to the establishment parties. In fact, Wagenknecht herself is building a right-wing nationalist party that does not differ from the other capitalist parties in its central orientation.

In eastern Germany in particular, the CDU is playing an important role as a stooge for the AfD. In 2020, together with the Free Democratic Party (FDP), it ensured that a state premier was elected with the votes of fascists for the first time in Thuringia. In September 2023, with votes from the FDP and AfD, the CDU lowered the real estate transfer tax to five percent. In various urban and rural districts in Brandenburg and Saxony, it has tabled motions together with the AfD to cut benefits for asylum seekers.

Just recently, Thuringia’s CDU leader Mario Voigt called for the complete cancellation of citizen’s allowance payments for refugees from Ukraine. In the Saale-Orla district of Thuringia, the new CDU district administrator Christian Herrgott—with the support of Voigt and Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (Social Democrats, SPD)—announced plans to oblige asylum seekers to work four hours a day for a pittance of 80 cents an hour.

When asked about the fact that the CDU in Thuringia in particular has pushed through several motions with AfD support, Wagenknecht explicitly defended this cooperation with the fascists: “The CDU has tabled motions that the AfD has agreed to. That is a normal democratic process.”

And she makes clear that she would also work with the AfD to implement right-wing and anti-refugee policies. “Should a government, for example, not introduce the payment card for refugees just because the AfD might agree to it? What kind of understanding of politics is that!”

She continues in the same right-wing jargon: “For years, all parties except the AfD have denied that uncontrolled immigration is a problem. But people are experiencing a lack of housing, teachers are overworked, children can’t speak German and there are cultural conflicts.”

In order to justify her orientation towards the AfD, Wagenknecht claims that, unlike the AfD’s Thuringia state leader Björn Höcke, AfD co-chair Alice Weidel did not represent “extreme right-wing positions, but conservative and economic liberal ones.” She may make “aggressive speeches, but I cannot recognise a völkisch ideology, i.e. the assumption that nations are not constituted by culture, but by genes and blood.”

In other words: Wagenknecht favours culturally racist positions over völkisch-nationalist ones. Her differentiation from Höcke is pure window dressing. In fact, Weidel works very closely with Höcke and his Flügel (Wing) and advocates far-right positions herself. Her “aggressive speeches” in the Bundestag (federal parliament) are fascist tirades in which, among other things, she castigates the “birth rate” among “Muslim immigrants,” agitates against “headscarf girls” and insults refugees as “subsidised knifemen” and “good-for-nothings.”

Weidel’s personal advisor at the time, Roland Hartwig, took part in the infamous Potsdam secret meeting that planned the mass deportation of millions of people. Moreover, it is precisely the Thuringia AfD led by Höcke that Wagenknecht can imagine using to push through proposals.

Wagenknecht’s statements in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung are not a slip of the tongue, but result directly from her political orientation. When it was founded, the BSW declared it was not a left-wing party. It did not concern itself with developing resistance to the genocide in Gaza, opposition to the NATO war offensive against Russia and anger at the coalition government, but in channelling this into right-wing channels and suppressing it. To this end, it is prepared to make common cause not only with the government parties (SPD, FDP and Greens), but also with the CDU and AfD.

This policy stands in continuity with the right-wing policies of the Left Party, from which the BSW has split. This is particularly evident in Thuringia. Headed by Left Party state Premier Bodo Ramelow, Thuringia has one of the highest deportation rates in Germany. Cooperation with the AfD and CDU is also particularly well developed there. At the beginning of 2020, Ramelow used his vote to make the AfD’s Michael Kaufmann Vice President of the Thuringia state assembly. And the Left Party-SPD-Green minority government he leads relies on the toleration of the CDU.

Wagenknecht’s interview illustrates the gulf that exists between the mood of the general population and all the capitalist parties, including the BSW. While millions are disgusted by the AfD and the extreme right-wing policies of all the Bundestag parties and are taking to the streets en masse, Wagenknecht embraces the AfD and offers herself as its stooge.

Workers and young people who want to fight against fascism, militarism and war must draw the necessary conclusions from this. As Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (SGP) chairman and leading candidate for the European elections, Christoph Vandreier, wrote in his commentary on the founding of the BSW:

Workers must confront Wagenknecht’s third rehash of the stale attempt to save capitalism with open hostility. The BSW does not oppose the government’s policy of war and social cuts, but underpins it. The only way to oppose militarism, prevent a third world war and defend social rights is through the international mobilisation of the working class against capitalism. No problem can be solved without breaking the power of the banks and corporations and bringing them under democratic control. Such a movement requires the unification of workers across all national, ethnic and religious boundaries.