Sahra Wagenknecht

Dietmar Bartsch Gregor Gysi Anton Hofreiter

Sahra Wagenknecht
Maischberger - 2019-11-13-9491-2.jpg
Wagenknecht in 2019
Leader of The Left in the Bundestag
In office
15 May 2010 – 12 November 2019
Serving with Dietmar Bartsch
Preceded byGregor Gysi
Succeeded byAmira Mohamed Ali
Member of the Bundestag
for North Rhine-Westphalia
Assumed office
27 September 2009
ConstituencyThe Left Party List
Personal details
Born (1969-07-16) 16 July 1969 (age 51)
Jena, East Germany
Political partyThe Left (2007–present)
Other political
Party of Democratic Socialism (1989–2007)
Socialist Unity Party of Germany (1989)
Spouse(s)Ralph-Thomas Niemeyer (1997–2013)
Oskar Lafontaine (2014–)

Sahra Wagenknecht (German pronunciation: [ˌzaːʁaː ˈvaːɡn̩ˌknɛçt]; born 16 July 1969) is a German left-wing politician, economist, author and publicist. Along with Dietmar Bartsch, she was the parliamentary chairperson of Die Linke from 2010 to 2019. Since 2009, she has been a member of the Bundestag.

Early life

Wagenknecht was born on 16 July 1969 in the East German city of Jena.[1] Her father is Iranian and her mother, who worked for a state-run art distributor, is German. She was cared for primarily by her grandparents until 1976, when she and her mother moved to East Berlin. While in Berlin, she became a member of the Free German Youth (FDJ). She completed her Abitur exams in 1988 and joined the (then ruling) Socialist Unity Party (SED) in early 1989.[2][3]

From 1990, she studied Philosophy and New German Literature as an undergraduate in Jena and Berlin but dropped out. She then enrolled as a philosophy student at the University of Groningen where she earned an MA in 1996 for a thesis on the young Karl Marx's interpretation of Hegel, published as a book in 1997.[2][3] From 2005 until 2012 she studied economics at the TU Chemnitz, where she earned a PhD with a dissertation on "The Limits of Choice: Saving Decisions and Basic Needs in Developed Countries",[4] subsequently published by the Campus Verlag.[5]

Political career

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the transformation of the SED into the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), Wagenknecht was elected to the new party's National Committee in 1991. She also joined the PDS's Communist Platform, an orthodox Marxist faction.[3]

In the 1998 German federal election, Wagenknecht ran as the PDS candidate in a district of Dortmund, garnering 3.25% of the vote. Following the 1999 European elections, she was elected as a PDS representative to the European Parliament. Among her duties in the parliament is serving on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Delegation, as well as the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.[3][6]

Following the merger of the PDS and the WASG that formed the Left Party (Die Linke), Wagenknecht considered campaigning for the position of party vice-chair. However, party leaders such as Lothar Bisky and Gregor Gysi objected to the idea primarily because of her perceived sympathies for the former German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany). Following the controversy, she announced that she would not run for the post. Wagenknecht successfully contested a seat in the 2009 federal election in North Rhine-Westphalia.[7] She became the Left Party's spokesperson for economic politics in the Bundestag. On 15 May 2010, she was at last elected vice-president of the Left Party with 75.3% of the vote.

Early in 2012, the German press reported that Wagenknecht was one of 27 Left Party Bundestag members kept under surveillance by the security services.[8]

She has been one of the main driving forces in the formation of Aufstehen, a left-populist movement established in 2018, which exists outside of traditional political party structures and has been compared to the French movement La France Insoumise.[9] In March 2019, Wagenknecht announced her withdrawal from her leadership role within Aufstehen, citing personal workload pressures and insisting that after a successful start-up phase, for which political experience was necessary, the time had come for the movement's own grass roots to resume control. She complained that the involvement of political parties at its heart had "walled in" ("sich eingemauert") the movement. She would nonetheless continue to make public appearances on its behalf.[10][11]

Political views

Wagenknecht has argued that the Left Party must pursue radical and anti-capitalist goals, thereby remaining distinct from the more moderate Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Green Party. She has criticized the Left Party's participation in coalition governments, especially the Berlin state government, which has made cuts to social spending and privatized some services.[12]

She has expressed strong support for the rise of left-wing leaders in Latin America, such as Hugo Chávez,[13] and for SYRIZA's 2015 electoral victory in Greece.[14] She serves as a spokesperson for the Venezuela Avanza solidarity network, and as an alternate on the European Parliament's delegation for relations with Mercosur.[6]

On 28 May 2016, an activist from the anti-fascist group Torten für Menschenfeinde ("Cakes for Enemies of Humanity") pushed a chocolate cake in Wagenknecht's face at a Left Party meeting in Magdeburg in response to Wagenknecht's calls for limits on the number of refugees.[15] Wagenknecht has criticised Angela Merkel's refugee policies, arguing that her government has not provided the levels of financial and infrastructural support required to avoid increasing pressure on local authorities and the labour market, thereby exacerbating tensions in society.[9] She has also claimed that Merkel's policies were partly to blame for the 2016 Berlin truck attack.[16]

Personal life

Wagenknecht married businessman Ralph-Thomas Niemeyer in May 1997.[17] However, on 12 November 2011, politician Oskar Lafontaine stated publicly that he and Wagenknecht had become "close friends" (German: eng befreundet).[18] At the time, Wagenknecht and Lafontaine had already separated from their respective spouses.[19][20] Wagenknecht married Lafontaine, 26 years her senior, on 22 December 2014.[21] She is an atheist.[22]



  1. ^ "Search for a Member - MEPs - European Parliament".
  2. ^ a b "Günter Gaus im Gespräch mit Sahra Wagenknecht" from Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb), 11 February 2004.
  3. ^ a b c d "Kurzbiographie Archived 9 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine" from (29 June 2007).
  4. ^ Nachwuchs, Prorektor für Forschung und wissenschaftlichen. "Promotionen - Publikationen - Forschung - TU Chemnitz".
  5. ^ Sahra Wagenknecht: The Limits of Choice: Saving Decisions and Basic Needs in Developed Countries. Campus Verlag, Oktober 2013, ISBN 978-3-593-39916-4.
  6. ^ a b Your MEPs : Introduction : Sahra WAGENKNECHT – European Parliament profile
  7. ^ DIE LINKE.NRW (Party website), ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 April 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)," (21 April 2009).
  8. ^ "jok" (22 January 2012). "Geheimdienst: Verfassungsschutz beobachtet 27 Linken-Abgeordnete: Von Sahra Wagenknecht bis Gesine Lötzsch: Mehr als ein Drittel der Linken-Abgeordneten wird nach SPIEGEL-Informationen vom Verfassungsschutz beobachtet, damit gibt es noch mehr Betroffene als bekannt. Die Bespitzelung kostet pro Jahr rund 400.000 Euro, Gregor Gysi nennt das Vorgehen "ballaballa"". Der Spiegel (online). Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  9. ^ a b Sunkara, Bhaskar; Baltner, Adam (11 October 2018). "Standing Up to Merkel". Jacobin. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Wagenknecht zieht sich aus Spitze bei "Aufstehen" zurück". Vor knapp einem halben Jahr stellte Sahra Wagenknecht ihre "Aufstehen"-Bewegung vor. Zuletzt wurde es ruhig um das linke Projekt - für Schlagzeilen sorgt nun ausgerechnet die Initiatorin selbst. Der Spiegel (online). 9 March 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Sahra Wagenknecht verlässt die Führung von "Aufstehen"". Die linke Sammlungsbewegung verliert ihren prominenten Kopf: Sahra Wagenknecht will sich zurückziehen, fühlt sich aber weiter "Aufstehen" verbunden. Tagesspiegel, Berlin. 9 March 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Nicht mitkungeln, sondern kämpfen," statement co-signed by Wagenknecht (28 April 2007).
  13. ^ "Kuba und Lateinamerika agieren selbstbewusster als früher" Linkszeitung (10 December 2005).
  14. ^ Sahra Wagenknecht (translated by Victor Grossman) (15 January 2015). "A Crack in Merkel's Power over Europe". Monthly Review.
  15. ^ "Activist throws chocolate cake in German Left Party leader's face at congress (VIDEO)".
  16. ^ Wilde, Florian (26 January 2017). "In Defense of Die Linke". Jacobin. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Betrugsverdacht – Ermittlungen gegen Sahra Wagenknechts Ehemann," Der Spiegel (19 December 2001).
  18. ^ Wehner, Markus. "Linke Liebe: Lafontaine und Wagenknecht ein Paar" – via
  19. ^ Beziehung mit Wagenknecht: Lafo in Love Spiegel Online vom 12. November 2011
  20. ^ "Lafontaine stellt Wagenknecht als seine Freundin vor". Süddeutsche Zeitung. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  21. ^ Geheime Hochzeit: Oskar Lafontaine und Sahra Wagenknecht haben geheiratet (Secret wedding: Oskar Lafontaine and Sahra Wagenknecht got married, German article on, 22 March 2015)
  22. ^ Interviewer: "Gibt es bei Ihnen auch ab und an Zweifel am Atheismus? (Do you doubt your atheism from time to time?)" Sahra Wagenknecht: "Eigentlich nicht. (Not really.)"