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Die Linke picks two women as new leaders in conference dominated by debate on cross-party alliances

TWO women have been elected as the new co-leaders of Germany’s socialist Die Linke party.

Janine Wissler, head of the party’s group in the Hesse state legislature, and Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, who leads the party in Thuringia, replaced Katya Kipping and Berndt Riexinger.

The result is seen as a win for the wing of the party happy to form part of a German government depending on the outcome of federal elections due in September. 

Ms Hennig-Wellsow’s rival Reimar Pflanz (the co-leaders were elected separately, with Ms Wissler heading a women-only list to ensure 50 per cent female leadership and the other list open to women and men) had called for a “clear no” to participation in a federal government dominated by Establishment parties, arguing that in such a scenario “we will not transform, we will be transformed.” 

In her outgoing speech, Ms Kipping said that the party could not “just stand on the sidelines and criticise others,” but Mr Riexinger emphasised that it retained strong red lines over the terms of any coalition: “We are against all foreign deployments of the armed forces. We will not participate in any government that wages wars and allows combat missions by the Bundeswehr abroad.”

In debates, delegates warned against hooking up with the Social Democrats (SPD) in any coalition, noting that the SPD was currently the junior coalition partner to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. One asked why socialists would want any alliance with “Cum-Ex Scholz” – Olaf Scholz, SPD candidate for chancellor and currently Ms Merkel’s finance minister, whose reputation was battered in the Wirecard and Cum-Ex financial scandals – and “armaments [Annalena] Baerbock,” the leader of the Greens widely criticised for supporting higher military spending.

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