Co-leader of Germany’s Left party steps down

After just over a year in the role, Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, the co-leader of Germany’s left-wing Linke party, has resigned.

Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, federal chairwoman of the Left Party, speaks at the federal press conference about the results of the state election in Saarland.
Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, federal chairwoman of the Left Party, speaks at the federal press conference about the results of the state election in Saarland. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

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.

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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.

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“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.”

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Germany’s Habeck to promote green production with ‘climate-protection contracts’

Germany plans to promote climate-friendly production by offering so-called 'climate-protection contracts' to industrial firms next year, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Sunday.

Germany's Habeck to promote green production with 'climate-protection contracts'

The state funding would support companies in transitioning towards cleaner production and the use of hydrogen, encouraging the development of a marketable “green industry”.

“With the climate protection contracts, we are opening a new chapter, with Germany taking on a pioneering role,” Habeck told Germany’s Funke Media Group newspapers, which had sight of the draft directive on the agreements

Climate-friendly production processes are often so costly that companies cannot afford to switch to them.

Habeck wants to compensate large companies with high CO2 emissions for the additional costs they will incur in changing their production processes to lower emissions, thereby bringing new climate-friendly technology to market more quickly.

The proposed climate protection contracts would see both investment and operating costs subsidised over a period of 15 years.

However, not all industrial firms will be eligible. The contracts are intended to finance a few selected large production facilities in a targeted manner. This should, at the same time, drive the transformation of the entire industry.

Once green production becomes cheaper than conventional production, subsidised companies would then pay their additional income to the state.

“Climate protection contracts are therefore a very efficient funding instrument that makes transformative technologies calculable for investors and financiers and, at the same time, prevents the state from continuing to provide funding when it is no longer necessary,” the draft directive stated.

To be eligible for support, the company must exclusively use electricity from renewable sources in its production processes; hydrogen usage must meet strict criteria.

Habeck aims for the funding guidelines to come into force in the first half of 2023.