Sahra Wagenknecht

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Sahra Wagenknecht
2013-09-12 Sahra Wagenknecht 370.JPG
Member of the Bundestag
Assumed office
27 September 2009
Constituency North Rhine-Westphalia
Vice-President of Die Linke
Assumed office
15 May 2010
Personal details
Born (1969-07-16) 16 July 1969 (age 46)
Jena, East Germany
Nationality German
Political party Die Linke
Domestic partner Oskar Lafontaine (2011-)

Sahra Wagenknecht (born 16 July 1969) is a German politician, graduated economist, and publicist. She is a Member of the Bundestag, author, and a member of the National Committee of the Left Party. Since May 2010 she has been deputy chairperson of the party.

Early life[edit]

Wagenknecht was born on 16 July 1969, in the East German city of Jena.[1] Her mother worked for a state-run art distributor. She was cared for primarily by her grandparents until 1976, when she and her mother moved to East Berlin. While in Berlin, she became a member of the Free German Youth (FDJ). She completed her Abitur exams in 1988 and joined the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in early 1989.[2][3] Her father is Iranian and her mother is German.

From 1990 she studied Philosophy and New German Literature as an undergraduate in Jena and Berlin. Subsequently she dropped out of her courses and enrolled in a philosophy course in Groningen. Her 1996 MA thesis covered the topic of the young Karl Marx's interpretation of Hegel. The dissertation was published as a book in 1997.[2][3] From 2005 until 2012 she studied economics at the TU Chemnitz, and finished her PhD with a dissertation on "The Limits of Choice. Saving Decisions and Basic Needs in Developed Countries",[4] subsequently published by the Campus Verlag.[5]

Political career[edit]

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the transformation of the SED into the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), Wagenknecht was elected to the new party's National Committee in 1991. She also joined the PDS's Communist Platform, an orthodox Marxist faction.[3]

In the 1998 German federal election, Wagenknecht ran as the PDS candidate in a district of Dortmund, garnering 3.25 percent. Following the 1999 European elections, she was elected as a PDS representative to the European Parliament. Among her duties in the parliament is serving on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Delegation, as well as the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.[3][6]

Following the merger of the PDS and the WASG that formed the Left Party, Wagenknecht considered campaigning for the position of party vice-chair. However, party leaders such as Lothar Bisky and Gregor Gysi objected to the idea (primarily because of her perceived sympathies for the former German Democratic Republic). Following the controversy, she announced that she would not run for the post. Wagenknecht successfully contested a seat in the 2009 federal election in North Rhine-Westphalia.[7] Being in the Bundestag she became the Left Party's spokesperson for economic politics. On 15 May 2010 she was at last elected vice-president of the Left Party (75.3%).

At the start of 2012 it emerged that Wagenknecht was one of 27 Left Party Bundestag members kept under surveillance by the security services.[8]


Wagenknecht has argued that the Left Party must pursue radical and anticapitalist goals, thereby remaining distinct from the more moderate Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Green Party. She has criticized the Left Party's participation in coalition governments, especially the Berlin state government, which has made cuts to social spending and privatized some services.[9]

She has expressed strong support for the rise of left-wing leaders in Latin America, such as Hugo Chávez[10] and SYRIZA's 2015 electoral victory in Greece.[11] She serves as a spokesperson for the Venezuela Avanza solidarity network, and she is an alternate on the European Parliament's delegation for relations with Mercosur.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Wagenknecht married businessman Ralph-Thomas Niemeyer in May 1997.[12] However, on 12 November 2011 Oskar Lafontaine stated publicly that he and Wagenknecht had become "close friends" (German: eng befreundet),[13] each being at that stage separated from their respective spouses.[14][15]


  1. ^ European Parliament profile
  2. ^ a b "Günter Gaus im Gespräch mit Sahra Wagenknecht" from Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb), 11 February 2004.
  3. ^ a b c d "Kurzbiographie" from (29 June 2007).
  4. ^ TU Chemnitz-Forschung-Publikationen-Promotionen-Witschaftswissenschaften 2012
  5. ^ Sahra Wagenknecht: The Limits of Choice: Saving Decisions and Basic Needs in Developed Countries. Campus Verlag, Oktober 2013, ISBN 978-3-593-39916-4.
  6. ^ a b Your MEPs : Introduction : Sahra WAGENKNECHT - European Parliament profile
  7. ^ DIE LINKE.NRW (Party website), "[1]," (21 April 2009).
  8. ^ "jok" (22 January 2012). "Geheimdienst: Verfassungsschutz beobachtet 27 Linken-Abgeordnete: Von Sahra Wagenknecht bis Gesine Lötzsch: Mehr als ein Drittel der Linken-Abgeordneten wird nach SPIEGEL-Informationen vom Verfassungsschutz beobachtet, damit gibt es noch mehr Betroffene als bekannt. Die Bespitzelung kostet pro Jahr rund 400.000 Euro, Gregor Gysi nennt das Vorgehen "ballaballa".". Der Spiegel (online). Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Nicht mitkungeln, sondern kämpfen," statement co-signed by Wagenknecht (28 April 2007).
  10. ^ "Kuba und Lateinamerika agieren selbstbewusster als früher" Linkszeitung (10 December 2005).
  11. ^ Sahra Wagenknecht (translated by Victor Grossman) (2015-01-15). "A Crack in Merkel's Power over Europe". Monthly Review. 
  12. ^ "Betrugsverdacht - Ermittlungen gegen Sahra Wagenknechts Ehemann," Der Spiegel (19 December 2001).
  13. ^ FAZ zur Wagenknecht/Lafontaine
  14. ^ Beziehung mit Wagenknecht: Lafo in Love Spiegel Online vom 12. November 2011
  15. ^ "Lafontaine stellt Wagenknecht als seine Freundin vor". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 2011-11-12. 

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