According to reports in various media, Germany recently held a near-unanimous vote to create a post of anti-Semitism commissioner.

While I'm aware of criticism of the post (mostly, for being a token gesture that isn't likely to be effective), I'm curious as to why the Left Party abstained from the vote? It was the only one - even the right wing AfD was onboard (for their own reasons, but still on board).

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    It is interesting that we get two sourced, reasonnable-looking answers with two very different explanations, allegedly coming for the same person.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 8:47
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    @Evargalo Not really. Pau said that she is unhappy that the left was excluded (for a variety of reasons), and that the proposal focuses too much on a specific group (immigrants) and includes calls for deportation. Presumably if the left would have been involved, they would have fought to keep deportations out of the proposal. There can be multiple reasons why a party rejects a proposal, and in this case they are somewhat interlinked.
    – tim
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 9:23
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    A guess: Germany has quite some arab and related immigrant population. Some of these groups harbor a less than stellar view of semitic people and/or Israel. The left might have an intention to stay as neutral as they can while these issues remain controversial, and avoid anything that could be interpreted as taking sides. Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 10:21

2 Answers 2


According to this newspaper article, it was for procedural reasons only. The motion was brought forward jointly by the Conservative (CDU/CSU), Social Democrat (SPD), Liberal (FDP) and Green groups. The Left group would have liked to formally co-sponsor the motion, too, but was excluded upon the Conservatives’ request. This due to the Conservatives’ policy of “no cooperation with extremist parties” (in their view, the Left and the AfD).

From the article (my translation):

The Left in particular considers this an affront. “I recommended that my group abstain”, Bundestag vice president Petra Pau of the Left tells taz [the newspaper]. They would likely have supported the motion if the other groups had allowed her group to weigh in on it, says Pau. “We were past that point already. I hope we can return to how it was handled during the previous legislative period.”


Petra Pau, one of the leaders of "the left" (die Linke) has said in an interview that the text unfairly targeted anti-Semitism among migrants from the Middle East and north Africa. She based her criticism on a study that showed the overwhelming majority of anti-Semitic acts were conducted by right-wing extremists.

Note that this is also probably why the AfD voted in favor of this text. Recently, the AfD attempted to get Jewish votes, or at least counter the image it has of an anti-Semitic party.

"New forms of anti-Semitism" in those populations are mentioned at the beginning of page 2 of the original text, while it specifies that more crimes are conducted by right wing extremists (I am not good enough in German to accurately translate, I hope a German speaker can tell us more).

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    The data cited is about crimes reported to/investigated by the police, not about crimes committed or verdicts by judges. This "Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik" (police crime statistics) is notoriously cited as proof by anyone who likes what it says and denounced as unscientific by whomever does not, with the roles often reversing on different statistics.
    – janh
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 9:17
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    @user5751924 Yes, exactly. It's raw data that isn't matched against verdicts (or even indictments), as that data isn't available in Germany. This primarily informs about the work of the police, not about crimes committed, but is used as an indicator in Germany (but scientists are usually warning about relying on it for an accurate descriptions of reality).
    – janh
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 9:34
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    @user5751924 It's not about other countries, but the German "Länder" (equivalent of US states). The proposal states that the federal government should get the states to use parts of the law which can be used to deport foreigners who incite antisemitic hate. So it's not about visa applications, but about foreigners who are already in Germany and are violating German law (how to deal with those is a point of contention between the left and the right; the right to far-right wants to "deport criminal foreigners", while the left wants to use the German justice system).
    – tim
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 10:02
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    As an expansion on @tim's comment: when foreigners break criminal laws, they can be expelled, but their interest to stay in Germany ("Bleibeinteresse") is weighed against the interest of Germany to expel them. This proposal wants to make it easier to expel them. Keep in mind that this is a legal status thing, it's not about deportation directly (which is treated separately from expulsion; around 5-10% of those expelled ("ausreisepflichtig") are deported).
    – janh
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 10:28
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    Petra Pau, the leader of "the left" Is she really the leader? Shouldn't this be Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger who are listed as chairperson? I don't find anything about her calling her the 'leader'. Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 13:43

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