Will an eco-activist save Germany’s left? On 17 July, the leadership of “Die Linke” announced that Carola Rackete would be one of the party’s four top candidates for the 2024 European Parliament elections. This was nothing short of a coup.
Rackete rose to international fame in 2019, when she captained the Mediterranean rescue boat “Sea Watch 3” into the port of Lampedusa, carrying 53 migrants, although Italy’s authorities had forbidden her to dock. Furthermore, Rackete is a climate researcher and activist.
For years, “Die Linke” has been struggling, mainly because of internal conflicts. On the one hand, it includes young academic leftists from the cities, for whom climate change, LGBTIQ rights and the support of refugees are important. On the other hand, the party contains the older generation of leftists, who want to see more focus on workers’ rights.
Many of the latter are attracted to the rather controversial former leader of the party’s faction, Sahra Wagenknecht, who has polemicised against the younger generation for being “lifestyle-leftists” and strongly criticised Angela Merkel for her 2015 decision to allow refugees into Germany. Wagenknecht’s public statements often openly contradict her party’s policy. These conflicts have caused a loss of voters and members. In recent months, Wagenknecht has openly flirted with the idea of forming her own party.
For a long time it looked as if the party’s top brass wouldn’t be able to resolve these conflicts. However, on 10 June, the leadership asked Wagenknecht to resign from Bundestag. This marked a turning point.
The nomination of Carola Rackete is another milestone in this new direction. With a focus on topics such as climate protection and open borders, Rackete stands for exactly the opposite of Sahra Wagenknecht.