Why the Left Party nominated a candidate with no chance

To analyse

Status: 11.01.2022 4:06 a.m.

His candidacy is considered to have no chance, but the message is clear: With Gerhard Trabert, the Left Party is sending a man with a clear socio-political profile into the race for the highest office of the state.

By Uwe Jahn, ARD capital studio

The left is fighting. Against the loss of importance after the Bundestag election, against the bad headlines because of ongoing arguments, against the invisibility of their socio-political proposals. Political survival has not become easier after the general election. Since the party was practically halved and only sits in parliament as a parliamentary group thanks to its three direct mandates.

Uwe Jahn
ARD capital studio

Traditionally, the small parties do not play a major role in the federal presidential election. If they still want to be noticed, they have to do something. The most obvious thing to do: nominate a candidate who can express their character and political positions.

Gerhard Trabert, Federal President candidate Die Linke, on his candidacy

tagesschau24 4:00 p.m., 10.1.2022

Commitment to the homeless, the poor, and refugees

This time it is the Mainz doctor and professor of social medicine Gerhard Trabert. Probably a good choice programmatically: Trabert may not be particularly prominent, but what you know about the candidate fits: He has been committed to the homeless, the poor and refugees for years. He is the founder and chairman of the Poverty and Health Association, and has also participated in several civilian missions to rescue refugees at sea in the Mediterranean.

In the last federal election campaign he ran in Mainz as a non-party direct candidate for the left, without success. Now he can still do the party a service: as a candidate with a left profile. On Trabert’s homepage it says: “Poverty makes you sick, illness makes you poor. For decades it has been my main concern to publicize this grievance and to try to give back a piece of dignity as social workers and doctors.”

And even before the party’s bodies want to make the nomination official this Tuesday, Trabert made a personal statement about his candidacy. His candidacy is not directed against anyone, he emphasized on his homepage. Rather, he wants to point out poverty and social injustice in this country. And a photo can be seen on his Twitter profile: Trabert is sitting casually dressed on a green sofa, also here the hint that he wants to act as an advocate for people who are not heard enough.

Ranke-Heinemann, Sodann, Butterwegge

It has a certain tradition that the Left Party sends its own candidates into the race for the office of Federal President. As early as 1999 she set herself apart from the other parties with a somewhat picturesque personality: Uta Ranke-Heinemann, non-conformist theologian with quite left-wing positions, who was best known as an original talk show guest, had no chance against Johannes Rau. In 2009 her candidate was Peter Sodann. The actor, known among other things as the “crime scene” commissioner, had previously caused a sensation with a statement that he wanted to arrest the head of Deutsche Bank. Horst Köhler was elected Federal President.

In 2017, Die Linke nominated political scientist and poverty researcher Christoph Butterwegge. Butterwege had campaigned against the social policy of Agenda 2010 and thus against the Hartz reforms and condemned neoliberalism. He was subject to the current incumbent Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Nomination without a dispute

The two party leaders Janine Wissler and Susanne Hennig-Wellsow are said to have agreed with the leadership of the parliamentary group on Trabert’s nomination for the highest office in the state.

When the left had to give the last remaining committee chairmanship in the Bundestag, there were still internal disputes and a signature campaign against the proposal of the parliamentary group leadership. Together with Klaus Ernst, a former party chairman and trade unionist, she prevailed against the climate protectors in her own party.

This time there seems to have been at least an agreement between the party leadership and the parliamentary group leadership. It’s supposed to be a symbol that something is still possible. Last year Trabert received the Mainz media award for “Sustainable media work” for his commitment as a social medicine doctor and homeless doctor. Perhaps the left can benefit from it. The candidate has no chance. But the party has to use it.

The next Federal President will be elected in the Federal Assembly on February 13th. Incumbent Steinmeier runs again for election. In addition to his own party, the SPD, the FDP, the Greens as well as the CDU and CSU have indicated their support. The choice of Steinmeier is therefore considered certain.


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