Why did the left fare so badly in the federal election? Deputy chief Ates Gürpinar speaks in an interview with Merkur.de about the reasons for the crash.
Munich – The Left is one of the losers in the Bundestag election. Compared to 2017, the party has almost halved its result. With 4.9 percent, it even threatened to miss entry into the Bundestag. Only because the required three direct mandates were won was the left able to bypass the five percent hurdle thanks to the basic mandate clause.
The group has shrunk to 39 MEPs. One of them is Ates Gürpinar. The deputy party chairman has entered the Bundestag via the Bavarian state list. He ran for the constituency of Rosenheim and is next to Daniela Ludwig (CSU) the second politician to represent the region in the Bundestag. in the Merkur.de-Interview, the 37-year-old speaks about the mistakes of his party and also deals with internal party disagreements. In addition, the top candidate of the Bavarian Left expresses himself in the state election in 2018 about the situation in the Free State. Gürpinar is critical of the increasingly likely traffic light coalition.
Ates Gürpinar: Criticism of the SPD and the Greens – “With regard to the exploratory talks, we are right”
Mr. Gürpinar, the general election was successful for you personally when you entered the Bundestag. For your party, however, it was a heavy defeat. How did you experience election day?
Personally, I only finally found out on the next day that I was allowed to represent the Bavarian left in the Bundestag. But of course it was a very painful experience to see such a defeat after so many weeks of strong election campaigns. I honestly didn’t expect that in the form. However, we knew that it would be more difficult than usual.
What do you mean?
The constellation was not that easy. The whole time it was about a personal election campaign in which political issues did not play a major role, although there would have been crucial issues. Topics that are very important to us, such as the question of how the financially weaker people get through the pandemic. When it finally came down to whether it would be a CDU or SPD chancellor, more voters tactically went to the SPD. We were aware of this, but we did not expect the extent to be.
You have lost 1.4 million voters to the SPD and the Greens. Party leader Susanne Hennig-Wellsow said: “The voters leaving speak a clear word. We haven’t been able to convince that we can be part of a change. ”Is she right?
It is even more: We could not convey that we are necessary for a change towards a social, solidary society. We have not made it clear enough that the problems with the SPD and the Greens will continue as before. If you look at the exploratory talks so far, we are right.
What are you referring to?
The desired changes are not helpful for the poorest in society. There are beautiful exploratory pictures from the FDP and the Greens, and behind that: Karl Lauterbach has already given up citizens’ insurance as a coalition requirement. The SPD quickly indicated that it would not do what it had promised in social areas. Anton Hofreiter from the Greens suddenly thinks the speed limit is unimportant – despite the death toll and climate change. The core issues that both parties stand for will not be reflected in the coalition agreement. The left will therefore get a lot to do, to put its finger in the wound. We can also change something from opposition work. A lot has to change in the health system, for example.
SPD politician Karl Lauterbach on possible citizens’ insurance
“In the health sector, one shouldn’t say that there has to be a citizen insurance. And don’t insist that there is a funded system. One should wait and see whether we agree to try something together. “(Source: Tagesspiegel)
Ates Gürpinar: “We talked too much about red-red-green”
Would a traffic light coalition be an advantage for the left? In addition to the AfD and the Union in the opposition, you could deal with social issues superficially.
In any case, we will not be able to avoid emphasizing the points that are important to us, and here the social question naturally plays the decisive role. As the only opposition party with this focus, we can get more attention – measured by the number of votes we received. We will build up the pressure and now we have to look ahead.
Let’s look back in time again. Keyword error processing. The left part of your party also sees the excessive focus on red-green-red as a reason for the election result. Political content would have moved into the background. In addition, it can be argued that the left of the Union provided the basis of argumentation to warn against the “left slide”. Has the left insisted too much on government participation?
The problem was not that the CSU put up this scenario and it made us an issue. The problem was that we should have dealt with it differently. We talked too much about red-red-green without bringing our core issues forward. We should have clearly gone on the offensive. With a view to the voters, this means: If you want to change something, if you want to have more justice, then you have to choose the left. Because that will not happen with the SPD and the Greens alone. We have Olaf Scholz, who helped construct Agenda 2010, and a green party that always speaks socially before the elections, but has never implemented any of it so far. It is actually clear that it takes a strong left to change something. We didn’t get that across enough.
Video: Left leader Hennig-Wellsow: election result is a “hard blow”
Ates Gürpinar: “There were differences between individuals and the party” – Wagenknecht in focus
Was the voting behavior of the left-wing faction on the evacuation mission in Afghanistan a mistake? A large part of the group abstained, but there were also yes and no votes.
We weren’t sharp enough there either. It was a mistake to vote completely differently. But I would like to put that in a larger context.
We actually had a pretty clear program. Both in terms of refugee or corona policy, but also ecology and sustainability or Afghanistan. The problem is that we were still in public about differences between individuals and the program. As a result, people no longer knew exactly what the left actually stood for. It was a problem that we sometimes expressed ourselves too ambiguously.
Are you making specific MPs responsible for this?
To publish a book with the term counter-program half a year before the election doesn’t make it any easier.
The Personnel Sahra Wagenknecht occupies her party. It is viewed critically by some party members and there are also said to be MPs who have threatened to leave the parliamentary group in the dispute over the direction of Wagenknecht. If three MPs leave, the left loses parliamentary group status. Do you fear such a scenario?
No, I am not afraid of that. The parliamentary group and the party have an enormous task for society at the moment. We have to give a clear direction. And if: You can’t give in to the pressure of individual people.
Now there are also leftists who value Sahra Wagenknecht very much and even associate her with top positions in your party. Do you see her in an office such as the parliamentary group chair in the future?
I think that’s out of the question.
Ates Gürpinar: “We on the left must work to anchor ourselves in Bavaria”
You were once considered the strong voice of the East. Gregor Gysi recently said that you have “lost your Eastern identity”. Are you losing East Germany to the AfD?
I believe that we no longer have an anchorage in the east. That’s why at some point people choose something else and unfortunately some also choose the right-wing extremists. We have to think about how we can anchor ourselves better overall and help the people in the remote regions as well as in the cities. One does not work without the other and applies to both the East and the West, where we as a young party were never sufficiently anchored.
Nowhere did the left perform worse in the federal elections than in Bavaria (2.8 percent). The left has never made it into the Bavarian state parliament. Why are you apparently unable to reach the people in the Free State?
Bavaria has been a very conservative country for decades. Even if the CSU has suffered losses recently, it is still very strong. The SPD has always had a hard time in Bavaria. But we as the left have to work ourselves to anchor it in Bavaria. This is taking longer than we thought. We have to support the local people with direct means: We had started the referendum for rent or nursing care in recent years. There is a lot to do in Bavaria when it comes to local transport, the housing situation or the poverty of women in old age.
After the general election you said: “There is still a world to be won.” How did you mean that?
Much of society cannot afford the world. An extremely large part of the wealth belongs to a few. Although we are well developed, everything is extremely unevenly distributed – in Bavaria, Germany and worldwide. For the people who have little to nothing, I see this party. I want to reach people who have given up hope.
What political priorities do you want to set as a member of the Bundestag?
We haven’t determined the distribution yet. In the past few years I have been more and more concerned with health and care. Since our health politician Harald Weinberg is leaving the Bundestag, I would like to get involved in this area. I am happy when it is good for my health, but of course I am open. After all, there is a lot to be done.
Interview: Andreas Schmid