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Heidi Reichinnek and Sören Pellmann after their election as the leadership duo of the new left-wing group in the Bundestag

Photo: Carsten Koall / dpa

The MPs Sören Pellmann and Heidi Reichinnek will in future lead the Left in the Bundestag. The new group with a total of 28 members elected the two on Monday in Berlin, as the party announced. They succeed long-time parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch, who is retiring from the front row after decades in high party positions.

The members elected the new dual leadership on Monday at a meeting in Berlin - albeit with very close results in two battle votes. This is a setback for party leaders Martin Schirdewan and Janine Wissler - they had hoped for an amicable solution with broad majorities.

Schirdewan nevertheless said afterwards: "What we had here today was an honest debate." The group made its decision as they made it. Now put the common interest first. The Left should become strong again and enter parliament again in parliamentary group size after the 2025 federal election. Wissler made similar comments.

Small group, but still divided

The results of the new group chairmen were very close. MP Clara Bünger and Left Federal Managing Director Ates Gürpinar also applied. Gürpinar withdrew during the proceedings. Bünger was defeated by both Reichinnek and Pellmann in two rounds, each 13 to 14.

The group has 28 members, but MP Petra Pau was unable to take part in the vote due to an injury. The MP Christian Görke was elected as the first parliamentary manager.

Reichinnek and Pellmann assured that they were pulling together. "We don't have that many chances and we can only do it together," said Pellmann. He wants to build bridges.

The Left is in crisis after the wing around Sahra Wagenknecht split off and is only at three to four percent in surveys nationwide. The left-wing faction dissolved in December after Wagenknecht and nine other MPs left the party. As Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht, they now form their own group in the Bundestag with ten members and Wagenknecht as leader.

Although the Left group is small, it is divided over the future direction. There is also traditionally a dispute between the left in the Bundestag and the party leadership. All of this was also reflected in the vote.

Reichinnek and Pellmann were defeated in the race for party leadership against Wissler and Schirdewan in 2022. Now they competed as a duo and formulated their top themes in a thesis paper: redistribution, “good work,” peace. Bünger and Gürpinar are closer to the party leadership, but did not get a chance.

The two new group chairmen are still little known. Reichinnek, 35, comes from Saxony-Anhalt and entered the Bundestag via the Lower Saxony state list. She studied Middle Eastern studies and said she was in Cairo during the Arab Spring in 2010 and 2011. She taught German in a facility for unaccompanied minor refugees. In the Bundestag she was responsible for children, youth, family and women's policy.

Pellmann, 47, comes from Leipzig and studied law and education for the disabled. Before his time in the Bundestag, he was a primary school teacher. He sees himself as a people-oriented concerner and was the Left Party's representative for the East at the time.

Pellmann also has a special role: he defended his direct mandate in 2021, as did Gregor Gysi and Gesine Lötzsch. All three secured the Left's entry into the Bundestag in 2021 with party strength, even though it only received 4.9 percent of the second votes.