After a nationwide storm of protest, thuringia’s minister president thomas kemmerich (FDP), who was only elected to office on wednesday with afd votes, wants to vacate his post again. He wants to clear the way for a new election of the state parliament.
"The resignation is inevitable," said the FDP politician in erfurt after a crisis meeting with FDP leader christian lindner, who had made a special trip to the city. Top representatives of the left-wing party, the SPD and the greens in thuringia called on kemmerich to announce his resignation by sunday. But the FDP man has not yet given a clear timetable.
In the morning, chancellor angela merkel (CDU) had called the election "unforgivable" with the help of votes from the CDU and the afd and demanded that the result of this operation be corrected. "It was a bad day for democracy. It was a day that broke with the values and convictions of the CDU, said merkel during a trip to sudafrica.
After kemmerich’s election with afd votes, lindner is under massive pressure within the party. He announced that he would ask for a vote of confidence this friday at a special meeting of the federal executive committee. Kemmerich said in response to the question of whether he had been forced to make his declaration: "no one forced us."Initially, only the FDP drew conclusions from the election, which was criticized by the federal CDU, CSU, SPD, greens and left-wing party as a "breach of the dam" in the demarcation of the conservative center from the afd.
The thuringia FDP wants to file a motion to dissolve the state parliament in order to call a new election. Kemmerich justified his decision by saying that he wanted to remove the stigma of the afd’s support from the office of minister president. "Yesterday, the afd tried to damage democracy with a perfidious trick," he said.
But dissolving parliament is not that easy. According to the state constitution, a vote on new elections must be requested by at least one-third of the deputies – in thuringia, that was 30. But the FDP parliamentary group has only five members in the thuringian state parliament. In order to decide on new elections, the votes of two-thirds of the deputies were needed. Kemmerich made it clear that if this did not succeed, he would ask for a vote of confidence in the state parliament.
Thuringia’s CDU party and parliamentary group leader mike mohring, on the other hand, wants to avoid a new election to the state parliament. The CDU had to reckon with a significant loss of votes in this case. The incumbent minister-president could put the question of trust to the state parliament and enable the election of a successor, he wrote on twitter. The current minister president, bodo ramelow, is still available as a candidate, according to the deputy head of the thuringian left, steffen dittes.
Kemmerich was elected head of government on wednesday with the votes of the afd, CDU and FDP, and thus prevailed over ramelow with the help of the afd. It was the first time that the afd helped a minister president into office. This led to fierce criticism from the public, but also from the parties.
Lindner called kemmerich’s declaration the "only correct decision. "After today’s decisions here in erfurt, it is possible for me to continue in my office as chairman. But I wanted to be sure of the legitimacy of our leadership," said lindner. Meanwhile, the thuringian FDP state executive committee expressed its confidence in kemmerich.
What consequences the CDU will draw remained unclear at first. CDU leader annegret kramp-karrenbauer traveled to erfurt on thursday to consult with CDU politicians there – these crisis talks continued late thursday evening. Mohring asked his state party executive committee for a vote of confidence, thereby gaining backing. According to CDU secretary general raymond walk, he was confirmed by a vote of twelve to two.
Kemmerich’s decision is "correct, but even after 24 hours it is already long overdue," said CDU secretary general paul ziemiak in berlin. This would create a chance to get out of the difficult situation and avert further damage. "All democratic forces" were called upon to look for new ways of achieving this along the lines of their own fundamental convictions. "New elections are the best way to do this and, above all, the clearest way," ziemiak stressed.
CSU leader markus soder had also made another move. "It needs a quick, a fast and a consistent correction of this mishap of thuringia and then a determination how to deal with it permanently. Something like this must not be allowed to happen again," the bavarian head of government said on the sidelines of a state parliament session in munich.
The afd has called on members of the state parliament in thuringia not to follow merkel’s recommendations. Democratic decisions should not simply be "taken back," declared the leader of the afd parliamentary group, alice weidel. She said: "I appeal to the delegates in erfurt not to be influenced by such anti-democratic calls."
Kemmerich’s election also strains the grand coalition in berlin. Situation to be discussed in coalition committee on saturday. Merkel did not want to comment in south africa on the question of whether the events in thuringia could also have led to the failure of the grand coalition in berlin.
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