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Björn Höcke; Thomas Kemmerich. Wikipedia

In historic coup AfD rises as kingmaker in Thuringia

Björn Höcke has risen to AfD kingmaker by causing an internal political sensation with the unexpected election of the FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich as the new Thuringian prime minister in the German state.

Published: February 6, 2020, 9:01 am

    Erfurt

    The AfD parliamentary group leader organised an unofficial electoral alliance with the CDU and FDP, sending off the red-red-green government with its popular head of government Bodo Ramelow (Left Party) to man the opposition.

    The Central Council of Jews in Germany president Josef Schuster told AFP that he was “horrified” by the vote outcome.

    As one of the founders of AfD Thuringia, Höcke became Member of the Landtag after the 2014 Thuringian State Elections. Höcke is the speaker of the parliamentary group of the AfD and he is the spokesman of the Thuringia regional association of his party. He is said to be part of the “national-conservative wing” of the AfD and his faction is known as the Flügel [the Wing].

    In September 2019, a court ruled that Höcke could legally be termed a “fascist” as the description “rests on verifiable fact”.

    The AfD member duped all parties in the most recent ballot: while the Left, SPD and Greens celebrated Bodo Ramelow as the possible election winner, in reality they had lost their absolute majority. Around 100 days after the state election at the end of October, the real election winner has been determined: Björn Höcke.

    Höcke succeeded in presenting the non-party candidate Christoph Kindervater as an alternative to incumbent Ramelow, but in the decisive third ballot the CDU and FDP did not vote for him, finally electing Kemmerich as prime minister.

    It is a coup that is unparalleled in the history of parliament in Germany. But it is a democratic, legally valid election, not defrauding voters, despite accusations of breaking the taboo.

    It remains to be seen whether and how the Erfurt earthquake will affect the Grand Coalition in Berlin. CDU and SPD members organised a crisis meeting in Berlin on Saturday to discuss the issue.

    “The republic is in danger,” said Katja Kipping, a leader of the far-left Linke party.

    Will the SPD implode now that it was booted out in Thuringia? The permanently weakened CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is at a loss because her party friends in the state have violated the federal decision not to work directly or indirectly with the left or the AfD.

    “This is a bad day for Thuringia, a bad day for Germany,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said in Strasbourg and immediately called for new regional elections as a way out of the “crisis”, a call echoed by other mainstream parties. She also blasted regional politicians for breaching the party’s policy of no cooperation with the AfD.

    Thus the chances for a black-green alliance after the next federal election have not improved.

    The FDP in the state could seize the opportunity and provide the AfD with content. If the ban on contact and exclusion against the AfD is not lifted, Kemmerich will have a hard time in governing Thuringia. And since he stumbled into high office completely unprepared, those who rant about an agreed maneuver between the AfD, FDP and CDU have not been refuted yet.

    The FDP, which only entered the state parliament when the ballot was recounted, must now seek parliamentary majorities. Red-red-green will refuse, but the CDU is ready for dialogue, as is the AfD.

    The question is whether the CDU, FDP and especially the new prime minister will jump over their parliamentary shadows and seek talks with the AfD.

    Actually, the new prime minister has no choice, since the alternative would announce his failure. Kemmerich still speaks of a “firewall” against the AfD. On the other hand, he recently brought up “colorful majorities” because “you have to rethink” politics.

    AfD co-leader Joerg Meuthen told the German daily FAZ that the vote showed that there was “less distance” between the CDU, FDP and AfD than other parties.

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    • LuciusAnnaeusSeneca

      The latest, of course, is that the German left and its media allies have created such an uproar that Frau Merkel has gotten involved and shown her disapproval. Hemmerlich has stepped down and new elections are likely and perhaps the only way to resolve a deadlock that has persisted for three months since last year’s elections. The one-day (or less) government that was just suppressed was a last-ditch effort. But the CDU violated a taboo imposed by Merkel and her minions, who deem it unacceptable for anyone in the CDU to work with the AfD. And of course the German left would never accept a workable government that takes the place of a leftist regime. So maybe elections offer a way to elect a new state legislature that can form a government. But the powers in Berlin should be aware that a higher electoral turnout above last year’s 65% will likely include a lot of very angry voters. The AfD and FDP may garner more votes, but the CDU and the left might be punished. We’ll see, and perhaps soon.

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