Strife in the saar left: “jew” or “judas”?

The affair over anti-Semitic remarks by Saar Left Party leader Mekan Kolasinac is a low point in the party’s trench warfare.

A dispute between federal leftists Riexinger and Wagenknecht is causing derailment among Saar leftists Photo: dpa

The fierce quarrel in the Saarland Left Party continues. After bickering and mousehandling in the run-up to the Bundestag elections, comrades are now accusing Thomas Lutze, the re-elected member of the Saarland Left Party, of tolerating anti-Semitism in his environment. In mid-October, Lutze’s colleague Mekan Kolasinac, who is also party chairman in Saarlouis, had written about federal chairman Bernd Riexinger in a Facebook entry: "Wrong, deceitful Jew" (sic). This vituperative criticism was prompted by newspaper reports that Riexinger had tried to bully the leading candidate and parliamentary group leader in the Bundestag, Sahra Wagenknecht, out of the party.

After indignant reactions, Kolasinac corrected himself: He had merely mistyped and wanted to criticize Riexinger as a "false deceitful Judas. "That doesn’t make things any better," says former Saarland member of the Bundestag Volker Schneider, who is now managing director of the left-wing parliamentary group led by Wagenknecht in the Bundestag. "This is the language of the NSDAP hate organ Der Sturmer," Schneider told the taz.

The affair marks a new low point in the trench warfare that has weakened the state party for nearly a decade. The fractures run across content positions. On one side, party founder, parliamentary group leader and Wagenknecht’s husband, Oskar Lafontaine, is arguing with the majority of the executive committee and parliamentary group members. On the other side are the re-elected member of the Bundestag, Thomas Lutze, and his fellow campaigners, including the chairman of the arbitration commission, Nikolaus Staut.

On October 17, the state executive committee of the Saarland Left Party applied for Kolasinac’s expulsion from the party: "Such ideas have no place in our party," was the reason given. Lutze, also treasurer of the Saarland Left, was not present at the meeting. But afterwards he stood in front of his colleague Kolasinac and wants to continue to employ him.

Keeping quiet out of self-protection?

"The Facebook entry was underground and not tolerable," Lutze told the taz. "But Mr. Kolasinac then immediately deleted it and apologized publicly." He assured his fellow board members in a letter that "party-damaging behavior" was "not to be feared" from Kolasinac in the future.

Lutze is fiercely controversial in the state party. There were accusations of manipulation during the list compilation for the federal election in May. Before his nomination, he had bought votes and carted members to the party conference to secure his majority, his critics said. They contested the state list, risking that the Saar Left would not be admitted to the Bundestag elections. The state election commissioner allowed the list to pass with criticism.

Schneider, an ex-Saarlander, is demanding that his successor, Lutze, part ways with Kolasinac, knowing that the state executive committee is behind him. Schneider speculates to the taz that there is a simple reason for his refusal: "Maybe Lutze doesn’t dare to take action against Kolasinac because he knows too much.

Volker Schneider

"Maybe Lutze doesn’t dare to take action against Kolasinac because he knows too much."

Meanwhile, Lutze’s confidant Staut is creating facts. Last week, the arbitration commission, of which Staut is chairman, expelled the secretary of the state executive committee, Adolf Loch, from the party in absentia. It was Loch who had gone to court over the manipulation allegations and challenged the list compilation. Staut also announced that before the state party conference, the commission would also decide on the expulsion of state party chairwoman Astrid Schramm. Both Loch and Schramm had already publicly attacked Staut as "damaging" to the party.

The fact that the comrades are still blithely attacking each other even after the quite successful federal election – in Saarland, 11.9 percent voted for the Left Party – is an expression of the smoldering power struggle. A new state executive committee will be elected at the party conference on November 25.

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