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PROMINENT Die Linke (Left party) parliamentary representative Sahra Wagenknecht announced today that Germany’s cross-party left-wing Aufstehen (Stand Up) movement has surpassed 100,000 supporters.
Addressing a Berlin press conference alongside veteran Green activist Ludger Volmer and Flensburg mayor Simone Lange of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Ms Wagenknecht highlighted a “crisis of democracy” because prosperity is no longer shared among all citizens.
The co-leader of the Left party group inside the Bundestag parliamentary chamber announced that the alliance had 100,001 supporters signed up to the project.
Other prominent Aufstehen backers include dramatist and author Bernd Stegemann, SPD parliamentary deputy Marco Buelow and Ms Wagenknecht’s husband Oscar Lafontaine, a former leader of both SPD and the Left party.
Ms Wagenknecht’s Left party co-chair Katja Kipping announced last week that she would not join the new movement, but Dietmar Bartsch, who shares Left co-leadership with Ms Wagenknecht inside parliament, told public broadcaster SWR today that every idea was welcome.
Although the Left party is active in many areas, it must admit that “it is not capable of bringing about societal changes alone,” he said.
SPD general secretary Lars Klingbeil, who may be seen as contributing to working-class disillusionment as a minister in conservative CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition cabinet, dismissed Aufstehen as a power struggle within the Left party.
His colleague SPD vice-chairman Ralf Stegner warned party members against joining “notorious separatists” such as Ms Wagenknecht and Mr Lafontaine.
Ms Wagenknecht, who grew up in the German Democratic Republic, said the economic climate was becoming “rougher” because not all of Germany’s 82 million population have benefited from export-led prosperity.
“Despite economic growth, 40 per cent of residents have less net income than 20 years ago. Democracy is no longer working,” she declared.
“The events in Chemnitz have shown that it can no longer continue as it has,” Ms Wagenknecht said, referring to last week’s anti-foreigner violence in Saxony state and her past warnings that an “open borders” Germany was unrealistic.
“I’m sick of letting the streets be taken over by Pegida and the right,” she added, referring to the Islamophobic movement founded in 2014.
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