Suddenly she is Germany’s second most popular politician. Ironically, her most controversial statements about the Kremlin ruler Putin bring the 53-year-old sympathy – but not in the left. Will she soon found her own party?

This text first appeared on SuperIllu

Actually, she is only the spokeswoman for the inner-party opposition in the smallest opposition party, the left, which is currently bobbing at five percent nationwide.

Why is Sahra Wagenknecht suddenly on everyone’s lips again, despite this blatant political outsider role? Guest on numerous talk shows? And a controversial topic at millions of kitchens and regulars’ tables? And why, as a recent representative survey by the Erfurt opinion research institute INSA on behalf of the Bild newspaper revealed, is she suddenly in second place behind Markus Söder among the “most popular politicians”? Far ahead of those who currently govern Germany, such as Olaf Scholz, Robert Habeck or Christian Lindner.

It is certainly not due to too many fans in their own ranks – on the contrary. Her star has been sinking at the Left Party for years. In 2019 she resigned in a dispute as co-chairman of the parliamentary group in the Bundestag. In 2021 she started a general reckoning with her book “The Self-Righteous”. In the work, she accused her party of making politics for big-city “lifestyle leftists” instead of for little people, for whom their fight for “gender language” was more important than standing up for low-wage workers or the unemployed.

When she described the constitutionally enshrined right to asylum for politically, ethnically or religiously persecuted people as a “right of hospitality”, which could also be forfeited in the event of abuse, she was cheered by many conservative asylum critics – on the other hand, leftists scolded her for using right-wing hate slogans. Sahra Wagenknecht’s husband, Oskar Lafontaine, caused another sensation in March of this year when he left the Left Party.

She herself is still in there – even if many of her “party friends” make an effort to disgust her out. When the left blew a “Hot autumn against social coldness” with a large demo in Leipzig on September 5, Sahra Wagenknecht wanted to speak there – but did not get a seat at the lectern with flimsy justification. At the same time, she was celebrated with calls of “Sahra, Sahra” at a demonstration by the “Freie Sachsen”, classified by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as right-wing extremist (although of course she wasn’t there at all).

Why the “Free Saxons” celebrate her while the left increasingly condemns her became apparent three days later when she spoke in the German Bundestag. The fact that she described the sanctions against Putin, supported by the broad majority in the Left Party, as an “unprecedented economic war against our most important economic supplier”, also caused outrage in her own parliamentary group. An alliance of “progressive leftists” called for the party to break with such “left-wing conservatism” and for Wagenknecht to be expelled from the party immediately. On the other hand, she received applause for the speech from many AfD members of the Bundestag.

According to a survey by INSA, Sahra Wagenknecht is as popular with AfD supporters as AfD faction leader Alice Weidel or party leader Tino Chrupalla. And for them it could pose a serious threat – namely if it said goodbye to the left and started its own “Wagenknecht party”. INSA boss Hermann Binkert estimates that a “Wagenknecht party” could gain ten percent nationwide and would take votes away from the AfD in particular – up to half. Weidel and Chrupalla would certainly no longer applaud her for that. So Sahra Wagenknecht will soon be self-employed with her own party?

In an interview with “SuperIllu” (see below), at least she doesn’t deny that.

SuperIllu: According to a survey, you are Germany’s second most popular politician. Can you explain that?

Wagenknecht: Of course I’m happy about this result. It speaks to the fact that what I represent is shared by many people. Many do not feel represented by the traffic light parties.

But neither does the Left Party, which languishes at less than five percent. According to the survey, things would look different if, instead of the left, just a “Wagenknecht” party took the lead. This could count on 10 percent of the votes. Will there soon be a “Wagenknecht party”?

I hope that there will be a party on the ballot paper for the next federal election that stands for the interests of our country, for economic prosperity, social justice and peace. What the traffic light does is ruinous. Many people are now driven by sheer fear. The sanctions do little to harm Russia. But they are destroying our country, our economy.

With that, you’ve seriously offended your own party, the left. When you praised Putin as “Germany’s most important energy supplier”, who had been frightened by an “economic war”, there were calls for your expulsion from the party. There were also many resignations from the party …

It’s not about Putin waging a criminal war. It’s about us and the hypocritical double standards of even expanding economic relations with other war criminals, for example in the Middle East. Incidentally, there was also a lot of encouragement from the left, a petition in my support was signed by 12,000 people. Overall, I have never received so much positive feedback from the population on a Bundestag speech. Many see that the sanctions against Russia primarily benefit the United States. But Putin also benefits from the high prices, while the people here suffer.

Much of this encouragement does not come from supporters of the left, but of the AfD.

Of course there are people who vote for AfD out of desperation and anger and like me. All parties should ask themselves why they have lost the trust of these people. I wish that these people would get a reasonable political offer again, then they would no longer vote for the right.

Are you really still in good hands with the left? The left once stood for many things that I represent: for peace and diplomacy, for social balance. But the party has changed a lot in recent years. The result is that voter support is getting smaller from election to election. Nobody needs a second green party.

You were against sanctions back in 2014 when Putin invaded Crimea. Now he has attacked the country again and says he wants to wipe it completely off the map. His soldiers have killed tens of thousands of Ukrainians, raped women and destroyed cultural assets. He is currently bombing the country’s energy infrastructure to make it uninhabitable. And he threatens to blow up a dam. What exactly does Putin still have to do so that you too are in favor of sanctions? Drop a nuclear bomb on Kyiv?

The sanctions do nothing to end the horror. I am very afraid that this war will continue to escalate. We should take the warnings seriously. But that’s exactly why the West must do everything possible to find a diplomatic solution instead of stubbornly supplying more and more weapons. We need negotiations and a willingness to compromise on both sides.