BERLIN (Reuters) – A leftist politician who quit Germany’s Left party and this week set up her own could win as much as 14% of the vote in national elections, dealing heavy blows to both conservatives and the far right, a new poll has found.
Sahra Wagenknecht, born in East Germany in 1969 to Iranian and German parents, launched her party “Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance – Reason and Justice” (BSW), promising to “save democracy” from the far right with a mix of paternalistic economic, conservative social and nationalistic foreign policy.
The backdrop – of an electorate made sullen by the economic shock from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the costs of the green transition, and stretched public services – is propitious for new parties: on the right, former spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen is also considering a new anti-immigration venture.
According to an Insa poll published in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Saturday evening, Wagenknecht’s party could take 4 percentage points from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), reducing it to 18%, and 3% from the opposition conservatives, putting them on 27%.
The three governing parties would be less affected: Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats would be 1 percentage point down on 14%, the Greens unscathed on 12%, and the pro-business Free Democrats on 4% would also lose a point.
Alarm is growing in Germany and the European Union at the AfD’s strong performance ahead of EU and regional elections in the final quarter of this year: a shift in Europe’s largest economy and the EU’s most populous country towards the AfD could upend the West’s fragile consensus on issues such as arming Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.
In this respect, the BSW, which calls for negotiations with Russia on ending the war, would be little different from the AfD, but, unlike the avowedly nationalistic AfD, it could be more palatable as a coalition partner to the centrist parties.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Mark Potter)