The co-leader of Germany’s democratic socialist party, Die Linke (The Left), announced her resignation with immediate effect on Wednesday.
Susanne Hennig-Wellsow took up the shared role in February 2021 along with Janine Wissler – who will, for now, lead the party alone.
With 39 seats, the Left are the smallest party in the German Bundestag. In the federal elections in 2021, they won only 4.9 percent of the vote – a drop of almost half from the previous election in 2017.
In a statement published on her own website, Hennig-Wellsow cited her private life, the handling of sexism in her own party, and the urgently needed renewal of the party as the main reasons for her resignation.
The Left are currently being rocked by a sexism scandal, with Spiegel reporting last week that there had been alleged cases of sexualized violence and a “toxic macho culture” in the Hessen branch of the party.
In her resignation statement, Hennig-Wellsow said that the way sexism was dealt with in the party’s own ranks revealed “glaring deficits” and apologised to those affected.
The sexism allegations were also the subject of a crisis meeting of the Left’s executive committee on Wednesday evening.
“The past months have been one of the most difficult phases in the history of our party,” Hennig-Wellsow wrote in her resignation statement, “Renewal is all the more necessary, and this renewal needs new faces to be credible.”
Summarising the state of the party, she said: “We were unable to deliver on the promise of being part of a forward-thinking political change because of our own weaknesses… too few people believed us to be willing and able to actively change this country for the better.”