Janine Wissler

Janine Natalie Wißler[1] (born 23 May 1981), known professionally as Janine Wissler, is a German politician who has been co-chairwoman of The Left and member of the Bundestag for Hesse since 2021.[2] Prior to that, she served as member of the Landtag of Hesse since 2008 and leader of the state parliamentary group since 2009, including as sole leader since 2014, as well as deputy leader of the federal party since 2014.[3][4] She was one of The Left's lead candidates for the 2021 German federal election, alongside Dietmar Bartsch.[5]

Janine Wissler
Janine Wissler 2021-02-27 Digitalparteitag Die Linke 2021 by Martin Heinlein - Cropped.png
Wissler in 2021
Leader of The Left
Assumed office
27 February 2021
Serving with Martin Schirdewan
Preceded byKatja Kipping
Leader of The Left
in the Landtag of Hesse
In office
5 February 2009 – 5 October 2021
  • Marjana Schott
  • Jan Schalauske
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by
  • Elisabeth Kula
  • Jan Schalauske
Parliamentary constituencies
Member of the Bundestag
for Hesse
Assumed office
26 October 2021
Preceded bySabine Leidig
ConstituencyThe Left List
Member of the
Landtag of Hesse
In office
5 April 2008 – 31 October 2021
Preceded bymulti-member district
Succeeded byAxel Gerntke
ConstituencyThe Left List
Personal details
Janine Natalie Wißler

(1981-05-23) 23 May 1981 (age 41)
Langen, Hesse, West Germany (now Germany)
Political partyThe Left (2007–)
Other political
Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (2004–2007)
ResidenceFrankfurt am Main
Alma materGoethe University Frankfurt
  • Politician
  • Political Staffer
  • Saleswoman
WebsiteOfficial website
Janine Wissler in 2017

Education and personal lifeEdit

Wissler attended the Dreieich Wingert School from 1987 to 1991 and the Dreieich Ricarda Huch School from 1991 to 2001. She then completed a degree in political science from 2001 to 2012 at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt. In addition to her studies, she worked as a part-time specialist saleswoman in a hardware store from 2002 to 2007. From 2005 to 2008, she also worked in the constituency office of Bundestag deputy Werner Dreibus.[4] She is also a member of the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and for Citizens' Action and the trade union ver.di.[3]

Political careerEdit

In 2004, Wissler co-founded the Hessian branch of the Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (WASG), a left-wing split from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), and joined The Left when WASG merged into it in 2007.[6] At its founding congress, Wissler was elected as one of the 44 members of the party executive committee. In the 2008 Hessian state election, she was one of six Left party deputies elected. She retained her seat in the 2009, 2013, and 2018 elections.[4] She was deputy leader of the parliamentary group from 2008 to 2009, then became co-leader of the group alongside Willi van Ooyen in February 2009.[3]

In 2011, Wissler became leader of the Left party's local branch in the Hessian city of Frankfurt am Main.[3] She ran for mayor of Frankfurt am Main in the 2012 and 2018 elections. In 2012, she placed fifth with 3.8% of the vote;[7] in 2018, she placed fourth with 8.8%.[8]

After van Ooyen's resignation in 2014, Wissler became the sole parliamentary leader of her party in the Hessian Landtag.[9] At the 2014 Left party congress, Wissler was elected one of six federal deputy leaders.[3] She received the highest proportion of votes of any candidate.[10]

In the 2018 Hessian state election, Wissler was one of the party's lead candidates alongside Jan Schalauske.[11] The party won 6.3%, its best result to date, and increased its parliamentary presence from six to nine members.[12]

In January 2020, Wissler was among several politicians who received death threats from "NSU 2.0", a purported successor of neo-Nazi terrorist group the National Socialist Underground (NSU). The threats included confidential information taken from Frankfurt police computers. She was subject to further threats in July 2020.[13] An investigation into a potential far-right extremist network operating within the Hessian police was subsequently launched by the state government.[14]

In September 2020, Wissler announced her candidacy for the federal co-leadership of The Left.[6] Prior to submitting her application, she resigned from Marx21 and the Socialist Left, stating that it was customary for candidates to terminate their association with internal factions.[15] Wissler was elected federal co-chairwoman at a party conference on 27 February 2021, winning 84.2% of votes cast.[2]

On 2 May 2021, Wissler was announced as one of The Left's lead candidates for the 2021 German federal election, alongside Dietmar Bartsch.[5] She and Bartsch were confirmed with 87% of votes by the party executive on 9 May.[16]

The Left won 4.9% of party list votes in the election, narrowly falling short of the 5% electoral threshold, but re-entered the Bundestag due to winning three direct constituencies. Wissler ran in the constituency of Frankfurt am Main I, winning 8.8% of votes and placing fifth.[17] She was elected to the Bundestag in first place on the state party list.[18]

After co-leader Susanne Hennig-Wellsow resigned in April 2022, elections for both co-chairpersons were held at a party congress in June. Despite ongoing controversy due to election defeats and sexual abuse allegations within the party, Wissler announced her intention to seek re-election. She was elected in the first ballot with 319 votes (57.5%), but was challenged by several candidates, including Heidi Reichinnek, who won 199 votes (35.8%).[19]

Political positionsEdit

Wissler is considered a member of her party's left wing.[6] She rejects capitalism as an "inhuman, cruel system".[10] She has stated that a classless society cannot be achieved through parliaments or governments, and that historical progress has always been achieved through revolution.[20]

Wissler advocates the Germany's withdrawal from NATO and the alliance's dissolution. She opposes all military missions abroad, including those under a United Nations mandate, stating: "There are no 'humanitarian interventions'. Wars are never fought out of charity, but out of economic and political interests." She supports raising taxes on the rich to provide greater funding for public services. When asked what she believed the world would look like in fifty years, she stated: "I wish for a world in which the pursuit of profit does not come first and in which all people can live in peace and social security. If the enormous wealth that exists in the world were distributed fairly, no one would have to live in poverty. But to do that, you have to fundamentally change the balance of power and ownership."[21]

In 2020, she stated that her party must stand up for justice, ecology, and peace at home and abroad, acting as a force that "supports concrete struggles and represents an anti-capitalist perspective".[6]


Wissler was aged 26 upon her election to the Landtag, and quickly attracted a high profile for her rapid advancement at a young age, as well as her controversial positions. She was portrayed as a contrast to then-Minister-President of Hesse Roland Koch, a noted conservative from the right wing of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) . At this time, Oskar Lafontaine recognised her as a great political talent.[22]

Wissler is considered a pragmatic and effective parliamentarian. She was a key figure in the unsuccessful attempt to form a red–red–green coalition (R2G) government in Hesse after the 2008 election.[22] As co-leader of her party's parliamentary group in Hesse, she was described as reliable and conciliatory, able to work constructively across party lines. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that deputies from other parties preferred to work with her than her counterpart van Ooyen. The publication described Wissler's speeches as among the most pointed of any deputy, and that "she uses all the instruments that parliament has to offer with great virtuosity". Within her party, she is well-connected in both the western and eastern states.[10]


Wissler's high profile and radical positions have attracted criticism. The Hessian CDU described her statements about parliamentarism and revolution as "particularly worrying" and evidence of the "partially anti-constitutional" nature of her party, claiming they represent its "turning away from parliamentary democracy".[20] Her election as co-Landtag leader was received with some controversy within her own party due to her association with Marx21 (formerly Linksruck), which is recognised by the Bundesverfassungsschutz as an extremist group.[22]

Wissler was accused of "falsifying history" by members of the Social Democratic Party after claiming that Social Democrats were responsible for the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.[22]

At demonstrations against the opening of the Seat of the European Central Bank on 18 March 2015, Wissler worked as a parliamentary observer and accompanied the Italian rainbow group. According to the police, this group was responsible for riots in the city centre. Wissler subsequently condemned such behaviour, stating: "That is definitely not what it should be about. We wanted a peaceful protest against the ECB."[23]

Sexual abuse in The LeftEdit

Wissler was subject to scrutiny in 2022 after reports emerged of sexual abuse in the Hessian branch of The Left. In particular, she was accused of covering up alleged abuse committed in 2018 by her then-partner against an underage party member. Wissler claimed that she only learned about an affair between her partner and the alleged victim after the latter turned 18, and that she had heard no claims of abuse at the time.[24][25] In April, the Wiesbaden public prosecutor stated that charges had been raised and subsequently dropped in three cases of abuse relating to the Hessian Left, with one case instead being pursued via a private suit.[26]


  1. ^ Janine Wissler: Tweet from 25 February 2018, 14:34. In: Twitter. 25 February 2018, accessed on 15 October 2020: "In the identity card, there is a ß in the name field and a double S at the bottom, because there was no capital ß. In times of internet and e-mail it is difficult to have a ß in a name and I use the double S notation so that it is consistent with the website and e-mail."
  2. ^ a b "Janine Wissler and Susanne Hennig-Wellsow are the new chairwomen of the Left". Der Spiegel. 27 February 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e "About me". Die Linke Frankfurt.
  4. ^ a b c "Janine Wissler". Landtag of Hesse.
  5. ^ a b "Left: Wissler and Bartsch become top candidates for federal election". RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (in German). 2 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d "Wissler wants to become federal chairman of The Left". Hessenschau.de. 4 September 2020. Archived from the original on 30 September 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  7. ^ "Election results". Hr-online.de. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012.
  8. ^ "The results of the Frankfurt mayoral election". Hessenschau.de. 23 February 2018. Archived from the original on 28 January 2021. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  9. ^ Frasch, Timo. "Im Porträt: Janine Wissler: Klassenkämpferin im Parlament". Faz.net.
  10. ^ a b c Frasch, Timo (12 May 2014). "Class fighter in parliament". Faz.net. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  11. ^ Presse, Frankfurter Neue. "Linke wählt Wissler und Schalauske zu Spitzenkandidaten | Frankfurter Neue Presse" (in German). Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Landtag election and referendum 2018". Hesse Statistical Office.
  13. ^ "Right-wing threats in Hessen: The trail leads again to the police". Frankfurter Rundschau. 27 July 2020.
  14. ^ Hetrodt, Ewald (9 July 2020). "Beuth uses special investigators after threatening letters". Faz.net. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  15. ^ "Left party: Janine Wissler terminates membership in the Marx21 network". Teller Report. 8 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Wissler/Bartsch named as top duo". Tagesschau (in German). 10 May 2021.
  17. ^ "Results for Frankfurt am Main I". Federal Returning Officer. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  18. ^ "Elected candidates by Land lists in Hessen". Federal Returning Officer. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  19. ^ "Janine Wissler and Martin Schirdewan form the new Left leadership". Der Spiegel (in German). 26 June 2022.
  20. ^ a b Euler, Ralf (14 June 2012). "Anti-Semitic Beliefs". Faz.net. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  21. ^ "An interview with left-wing politician Janine Wissler: "What we are asking is not utopian"". T-online.de. 9 May 2014.
  22. ^ a b c d "Hesse's left-wing puller". Der Spiegel. 9 October 2008.
  23. ^ Iskandar, Katharina (18 March 2015). "With militant greetings from Genoa". Faz.net. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  24. ^ "Janine Wissler on the crisis of The Left: "No fifth column of Putin"". Die Tageszeitung (in German). 19 May 2022.
  25. ^ "Alleged sexual assault: "Janine was a red rag for her"". T-online (in German). 6 May 2022.
  26. ^ "Public prosecutor's office: Investigations against Left politicians have been discontinued". Hessenschau (in German). 30 May 2022.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Janine Wissler at Wikimedia Commons