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CDU under fire for pushing through tax cut in German state with votes from far-right AfD

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CDU under fire for pushing through tax cut in German state with votes from far-right AfD
MPs from the AfD and the CDU take part in a vote in the plenary hall of the Thuringian state parliament on Thursday. The opposition has pushed through a tax cut in Thuringia for the first time. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Martin Schutt

Germany's conservative CDU is under fire after its Thuringia branch managed to approve a tax cut while in opposition with support from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

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The Thuringian state parliament decided on Thursday to reduce real estate property transfer tax from 6.5 percent to 5 percent.

This initiative came from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parliamentary group, which is in opposition in the eastern German state.

The proposal received a majority because members of the Free Democrats (FDP), AfD and independent parties backed it.

A coalition between Die Linke (The Left), the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens governs in Thuringia, but it does not have a majority in the state parliament.

However, the move is being viewed as the CDU 'teaming up' with the anti-immigration AfD - something that all mainstream parties in Germany have said they will not do.

The AfD in Thuringia has been classified as right-wing extremist by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution and is under observation. Meanwhile, the rest of the party is under surveillance from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution on suspicion of being extremist.

Katja Mast, of the SPD, accused the CDU of collaborating with the AfD.

She told German news magazine Spiegel: "This was planned from the beginning with the votes of the AfD.

"What we are witnessing here is a historic failure of the CDU. Friedrich Merz (CDU leader) and his CDU executive bear the responsibility for this."

READ ALSO: German far-right politician to face trial over Nazi slogan

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SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert warned of the consequences for politics in Germany.

"Today's vote in the Erfurt state parliament was no accident," he said on Thursday. "The CDU in Thuringia has visibly allowed itself to bring about a political decision that would not have been possible without the votes of the AfD.

"If this sets a precedent in the CDU, then parliamentarism will be different after today. Democrats must never let the AfD tip the scales in parliament."

The leadership of the Green Party questioned whether the word of CDU leader Merz can be trusted after he had repeatedly ruled out cooperation with the AfD.

READ ALSO: CDU rules out collaboration with far-right AfD

The Greens' Federal Executive Director Emily Büning said: "With this decision, the CDU Thuringia takes another step towards normalising legislative cooperation with the AfD, which is classified by the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution as extreme right-wing."

This was a "drastic shift" that had an effect far beyond the borders of Thuringia, she added.

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Thuringia's AfD parliamentary group leader Björn Höcke, who has been embroiled in controversies, said he was glad the "CDU mustered the courage" to "hold out" on the bill. 

Meanwhile, the CDU's deputy federal chairwoman Karin Prien rejected allegations of supporting the far-right party, DPA reported. 

Prien said that there had been no discussions with the AfD about the vote - and that they simply just supported it.

It is the task of the state government to enter into constructive discussions with the CDU, she said, adding that the events were "all very unfortunate".

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