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Germany: Both leaders of socialist Left Party to quit

After eight years in their posts, Katja Kipping and Berndt Riexinger said they are stepping down as leaders of the socialist party. An October convention will decide who will take the party into next year’s election.

Katja Kipping, co-leader of the Left Party in Germany, announced on Friday that she would be stepping down from her post. Her fellow co-leader, Bernd Riexinger, then confirmed on Saturday that he will also not seek re-election as party leader this year.

"Today I make it clear that I am passionately active as party chairwoman until the party conference, but that I will not run again...", Kipping explained to her party.

Read more: Germany: Left-of-center parties call for lowering voting age to 16

‘All-German party'

Riexinger laid out his decision in a letter to various party committees, stating, "I enjoyed my work as party chairman very much and am proud that we have built up and developed the Left into an all-German party."

Both said they want to ensure the party remains modern with Riexinger adding that it has "to launch a social project that resists authoritarian capitalism and is not satisfied with a green modernization of capitalism."

The dual announcements come as little surprise as party rules state that no person should hold a position for longer than eight years.

Speculation begins

The announcement comes one year before the German general election, prompting immediate speculation about who will replace them as leaders at the party convention in Erfurt on October.

The convention had been planned for July, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of Hesse's parliamentary group leader Janine Wissler and the Thuringia's parliamentary group leader Susanne Hennig-Wellsow have been discussed as possibilities.

"I can imagine a female double-team very well", Hennig-Wellsow told the German Press Agency.

Although candidates have not yet been announced, Hennig-Wellsow showed her interest in the position saying, "I’m holding conversations. A decision has not yet been made."

High praise for outgoing duo

Thuringia's state premier and Left Party member Bodo Ramelow honored the two co-leaders on Twitter saying, "I would like to thank you very much for your work and your committed work for our party! You clear the way and the party congress in Erfurt will pass on your baton."

Read more: SPD candidate for German chancellor: Olaf Scholz — pragmatism over personality

Kipping and Riexinger took up seats in the German parliament in 2017 when the Left Party won 9.2% of the vote. 

The party's rise in fortunes has sparked hopes that a future possible grand coalition may include them, along with the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens.

ab/mm (dpa, Reuters)

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