How five votes put Germany's Free Democrats in Thuringia state parliament

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How five votes put Germany's Free Democrats in Thuringia state parliament
Christian Lindner, FDP party leader, and Thomas L. Kemmerich, top candidate of the FDP in Thuringia, at a Berlin press conference on Monday. Photo: DPA

Exactly five voters saved the FDP (Free Democrats) from a new electoral flap, and made Thuringia the only east German state where the liberal party has parliamentary representation.


In Sunday's state elections, the FDP received a total of 55,422 votes, according to the state election commissioner, and reported in Spiegel Online.

That means they were exactly five votes above the five percent hurdle needed to make it into the state parliament. There were a total of 1,108,338 votes cast in the elections. 

Expressed as a percentage, the FDP result is 5.0005 percent, or almost five ten thousandths of a percent above the threshold. For the Liberals, as they are also known, almost every vote mattered.

The federal FDP tweeted their thanks for the remarkable result.

For the FDP it was a long tremor until shortly before midnight when all the votes were counted. 

The result can nevertheless be seen as a success: Thuringia is now the only east German state in which the Liberals sit in parliament. 

Thuringia's top candidate Thomas Kemmerich tweeted that "Democracy is when every vote counts" following the result.

Overall voter turnout rose significantly to around 66 percent, up from 52.7 percent in the last elections in 2014.

Only in 1990 and 2009 did the FDP receive enough votes to be in Thuringia's government. Graph translated for The Local by Statista. 

Could the FDP be part of a coalition government?

However, the Free Democrats, led in federal parliament by Christian Lindner, do not have a realistic chance of forming a coalition government.

In purely mathematical terms, it could be enough with the Left, Greens and SPD for a four-party coalition - but this was ruled out by Kemmerich. 

At best, Kemmerich has said that he wants to cooperate with the so-called red-red-green coalition on individual issues. 

However, other FDP state politicians expressed hope for forming a minority government.

"Stable minority models are possible, as can already be seen in other European countries such as Sweden and Denmark," said Robert-Martin Montag, Secretary General of the Thuringian FDP, at the Liberals' election party.

Founded in 1948, the FDP failed to receive enough votes to make it into parliament in 2013 for the first time in its history. In the 2017 federal elections, it regained its representation, receiving 10.6 percent of the vote. 

The party currently only forms coalition governments in the western states of North Rhine-Westphalia (CDU-FDP), Rhineland-Palatinate (Social Democrats-FDP-Greens) and Schleswig-Holstein (CDU-Greens-FDP). 




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