‘Space to build bridges’: Thuringia to vote again after far-right scandal

'Space to build bridges': Thuringia to vote again after far-right scandal
Christine Lieberknecht (pictured here in 2014) will lead Thuringia's new compromise government. Photo: DPA
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.

READ ALSO: 'Trouble and turmoil': What the CDU crisis means for the future of Merkel and Germany

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.”

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.

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.


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