German politician panned over Candy Crush confession

A German regional leader has sparked a backlash after he admitted on a chat app to playing Candy Crush on his phone during online pandemic response meetings with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

German politician panned over Candy Crush confession
Thuringia state premier Bodo Ramelow. Photo: DPA

Bodo Ramelow, head of the eastern Thuringia state, made the confession during what he thought was a closed meeting on the invitation-only audio chatroom app Clubhouse at the weekend.

The politician from the hard-left Die Linke party said that during the often hours-long sessions, “some people play Sudoku, others play chess or Scrabble on their phones, and I play Candy Crush,” according to German media reports.

He also reportedly referred to the chancellor as “Merkelchen”, a diminutive meaning “little Merkel”.

Responding to criticism online and in the media, Ramelow apologised for the Merkel slur and reflected on Twitter that “diminishing the chancellor's name was an act of male ignorance”.

At a press conference in Berlin on Monday, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert quipped that the revelation “speaks for itself and requires no further comment”.

Armin Laschet, the head of Merkel's conservative CDU party, said he did not play games in the pandemic conferences “because they are about very, very important questions”.

“We are discussing fundamental encroachments on basic rights… in schools, in education, in the economy, and you have to be involved in a focused way,” he told reporters in Berlin on Monday.

Thuringia's interior minister, Georg Maier of the Social Democrats, told the RND broadcaster that Ramelow “should reconsider his behaviour”.

Ramelow and other state premiers pushed back hard against Merkel's proposals for a tougher lockdown at a decisive pandemic meeting in October – weeks before an explosion in new coronavirus cases.

Ramelow has since expressed regret and admitted that the chancellor was right to push for tougher measures.

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‘Costing us votes’: Head of Germany’s far-right AfD urges split with radical wing

Germany's far-right AfD party is considering a split with its radical Flügel faction to create two separate parties, according to party co-leader Jörg Meuthen.

'Costing us votes': Head of Germany's far-right AfD urges split with radical wing
A Flügel supporter at one of the group's gatherings in Burgscheidungen, Saxony-Anhalt in June 2018. Photo: DPA

Separate parties could probably reach more voters than the “current…conflict-prone constellation”, Meuthen told the Tichys Einblick news magazine in an interview published Wednesday.

“Everyone knows that Flügel and its key exponents are costing us a massive amount of votes in the conservative camp,” he said.

Flügel (Wing), which has about 7,000 members, was co-founded by notorious AfD lawmaker Björn Höcke, who has sparked outrage with attacks on Germany's culture of remembrance for Nazi crimes.

The AfD said in March that it was planning to dissolve the radical group after it was placed under formal surveillance by Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

READ ALSO: Germany surveils far-right 'Flügel' faction as fight against extremism stepped up


Intelligence officials said Flügel violated “characteristic features of the free democratic basic order, human dignity, democracy and the rule of law”.

Founded in 2013 as a protest party against the euro single currency, the AfD has since grown and shifted further right, scooping up a significant number of votes from those unhappy with the government's migration policy.

It is now the largest opposition group in the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament.

But the party has also come under fire for fuelling anti-immigration sentiment amid several right-wing extremist attacks in Germany in recent months.

Support for the AfD has also dwindled with the spread of the coronavirus, with voters lurching towards Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

An opinion poll in late March showed the party on nine percent, two points down from the previous week and almost four down on its 2017 federal election performance.

READ ALSO: 'Merkel is back': Coronavirus crisis boosts German chancellor