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Left party selects leaders

June 2, 2012

Germany’s Left party has chosen two candidates for its dual leadership. In the first of two votes, delegates opted for 34-year-old Katja Kipping, while Bernd Riexinger won the second spot.

Katja Kipping, new co-leader of Germany's Left party
Image: Reuters

Germany's Left party opted for youth over experience in a leadership vote that saw Kipping take on 63-year-old Dora Heyenn.

At the vote during the party conference day in Göttingen, Kipping won 67 percent the 553 delegates' votes to choose a joint leader, while Heyenn garnered just above 29 percent.

In her speech ahead of the vote, Kipping called for "an awaking from entrenched thinking, and instead acting together as one."

Heyenn said after the first vote that she would not be contesting further.

Surprise new leader for Germany's Left

In the dual leadership of the party, one of the leaders chosen is always a woman with the second vote taking place for either a man or woman.

Among those standing in the second vote were deputy parliamentary party leader, Dietmar Bartsch, and Baden-Wurttemberg state chairman Bernd Riexinger. Riexinger ended up winning the party's second chair position, beating out Bartsch 297 to 251.

Party vice chair Sahra Wagenknecht - understood to be supported by former party leader Oskar Lafontaine - ended speculation that she might stand in the second vote, saying she did not wish to polarize the party.

Earlier, outgoing co-chairman Klaus Ernst had told delegates the party was in danger of fragmenting. A divide exists along the lines of a more pragmatic school of thought in the former East German states, and a more radical western faction.

The party won 11.9 percent of the vote in national elections in 2009, but its support has since slipped to 7 percent.

rc/mz (dpa, Reuters, AFP)