'Space to build bridges': Thuringia to vote again after far-right scandal
The eastern German state of Thuringia plans to hold new elections in spring, after mainstream parties' apparent cooperation with the far right there unleashed a national scandal and forced the resignation of Chancellor Angela Merkel's chosen successor.
A parliamentary vote for state premier claimed several political scalps, including that of the chosen successor of Chancellor Angela Merkel, after a liberal politician was elected with backing from both the centre and far right.
Liberal Thomas Kemmerich then stepped down, leaving Thuringia rudderless.
On Tuesday, parties from across the political spectrum haggled over a compromise to install a technical government for the next 70 days before holding fresh elections.
State lawmakers from Merkel's CDU had voted with their far-right, anti-immigrant AfD counterparts on February 5th to elect Kemmerich state premier. Thousands of people have staged street protests against the vote, which broke a taboo over centrist parties accepting help from the far right.
AfD's rhetoric of a remote Berlin elite more interested in coddling immigrants than supporting hard-working Germans resonates in the former East.
The scandal forced the resignation of CDU leader and Merkel heir apparent Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, prompting a new race to succeed Merkel as chancellor.
In a surprise move on Monday night, ousted Left party state premier Bodo Ramelow suggested that his centre-right predecessor Christine Lieberknecht lead a skeletal administration with a handful of left-wing ministers.
"My respect for Bodo Remelow," tweeted Social Democratic politician Klara Geywitz. "Anyone who loves their country is above all looking for a solution in a crisis and does not think of themselves first."
Mein Respekt für @bodoramelow Wer sein Land liebt, der sucht in der Krise vor allem eine Lösung und denkt dabei nicht zuerst an sich. Jetzt ist der Weg zu Neuwahlen frei, damit die Thüringer entscheiden können, wie es weiter geht.— Klara Geywitz (@klara_geywitz) February 17, 2020
Ramelow's proposal "offers the space to build bridges and to advance the projects on which democratic political camps can agree," tweeted Die Linke politician Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff.
Kurzum: Der Vorschlag von @bodoramelow bietet den Raum um Brücken zu bauen und genau diejenigen Vorhaben voranzubringen, in denen sich die demokratischen politischen Lager einig sein können. Bis zu und nach der Landtagswahl können genau diese umgesetzt werden. 5/5— Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff ?? ?✡️ (@BenjaminHoff) February 18, 2020
But on Tuesday, the CDU's Thuringia wing said they would only agree to a transitional government in which all ministerial positions were filled so that the state budget for 2021 could be passed.
"After the budget has been passed, there can be fresh elections," CDU lawmakers said in a statement. Further negotiations are scheduled for Tuesday evening.
The far-right AfD said it was open to new elections, but rejected plans to install Lieberknecht at the head of a transitional administration.
Lieberknecht, 61, was Thuringian state premier from 2009-14, heading a centrist coalition with the social-democratic SPD.
She later lost her post to Ramelow, who led a coalition between the far left, the SPD and the Green Party before losing his majority at elections last October.