Notes de l'Ifri Notes du Cerfa
An election campaign poster of Die Linke party in street of Munich, Germany on July 23, 2017

What Is Left and to Whom? Germany’s Left-wing Party Die Linke and the Search for Its Identity Notes du Cerfa, No.161, Ifri, May 2021

In late February 2021, Germany’s left-wing party Die Linke gave themselves a new party executive. The new team is supposed to lead the party into the federal elections in September and, if possible, into a national center-left government.

Or do they? The conference was accompanied by infights and controversies about the party’s direction and identity. With only a few months ahead until the elections, any other party would be alarmed by the fact that their leaders and members were still debating the fundamental question of ideology and strategy: What is left-wing policy and who is its target group? However, in the case of Germany’s Die Linke, its tendency to controversy does not only reflect a notorious pattern among left-wing parties but also the party’s specific history and origins. Additionally, growing conflicts of social values and identity politics are troubling political parties in Germany as much as in other Western countries. What is Die Linke’s attitude towards potential government participation? How do they describe their primary goals? And which group within the party is giving which answer to these questions? This paper takes a closer look at Die Linke, its development, its most important representatives, and its current situation before the 2021 federal election.


Thorsten Holzhauser is a Fellow Researcher at the Theodor Heuss Foundation in Stuttgart. He wrote his PhD on the history of integration of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) in a reunified Germany. Since obtaining his doctorate he has been working on the evolution of the party Die Linke and the German political landscape.


This publication is available in the following languages (pdf):


Die Linke German domestic politics German election 2021 Gregor Gysi Janine Wissler Post-Angela Merkel Sahra Wagenknecht Stasi Susanne Hennig-Wellsow Germany