Sahra Wagenknecht (left) by Sven Teschke (CC BY-SA 3.0 DE). Frauke Petry (right) by Olaf Kosinsky (CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)
"Populist" is a word that reporters use to make someone sound like a dick while pretending they're being objective. They do it all the time to describe the AfD (for whom it's accurate) but now they've also started using it for Die Linke (for whom it isn't). I know that, in the feverish post-Cologne weeks, Sahra Wagenknecht said, "Whoever abuses their right to hospitality has forfeited it," and that was a stupid thing to say, but it seems like the media has now decided they're the same party.
Last weekend, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung ran a debate-style interview between Wagenknecht and AfD leader Frauke Petry, the main purpose of which was to herd them into the same pen – they're both women from East Germany in their forties who went to university (spooky, huh?).
The leftish taz jumped on this interview and agreed with the conservative FAS about everything, and theorized that Wagenknecht's "consensus" must be because she's trying win back all those voters the Linke lost to the AfD in eastern Germany, where "Die Linke is no longer the protest party – but the AfD." In all this year's regional elections in eastern Germany, (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin, Sachsen-Anhalt) the AfD took the biggest percentage of its new voters from the CDU – but that doesn't fit this "populist" theme we've made up, does it? Oh well, fuck it, they're both Ossis with a degree and a vagina.
Even despite the FAS' leading questions ("And so after the election you'd have no problem forming a coalition together?"), Wagenknecht literally spent the whole interview listing what the differences between the AfD and her party were, and not just on tax and social welfare – but especially on immigration: "There is no overlap, Ms. Petry. Unlike me, you would have voted for every tightening of the asylum law. According to its manifesto, the AfD wants Germany to base its immigration policy on that of Canada and the United States. That means you deliberately want to bring highly qualified people from poorer countries. That is the exact opposite of help."
But but BUT, the taz said, "Wagenknecht avoided naming the racism of the AfD clearly … That could cost her more voters." Erm, except at the end of the interview, when she says, "The AfD wants a weaker welfare state, lower wages and pensions, an unfair tax system, and is nationalistic and partly racist." That sounds to me a bit like someone calling a political party racist.
I'm not a big Wagenknecht fan, but the way the FAS framed this interview and the taz commented on it just to make her sound more of a dick really annoys me. I'm basically sitting here, actually peeved.