Government crisis in Thuringia 2020

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Distribution of seats in the 7th Thuringian Parliament
A total of 90 seats
Prime Minister Kemmerich being sworn in by State Parliament President Birgit Keller

The government crisis in Thuringia (also the Thuringia crisis ) was triggered by the election of Thomas Kemmerich ( FDP ) as Thuringian Prime Minister with votes from AfD , CDU and FDP on February 5, 2020. The election received both national and international attention because, for the first time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, a Prime Minister was elected with votes from the right-wing populist and, in some cases, right-wing extremist AfD.

The Thuringian state government then consisted of the Prime Minister for four weeks. Kemmerich resigned on February 8, 2020 and was managing director until Bodo Ramelow was elected Prime Minister on March 4, 2020 . After Kemmerich's election, no members were appointed to the Bundesrat , and he himself also decided not to represent Thuringia there. Kemmerich was accused of not participating in government affairs.

The crisis was also a result of the state elections in Thuringia in 2019 , in which no government coalition established in Germany gained a majority. After the controversial election of Kemmerich, the resignation of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as CDU federal chairman, Mike Mohring's retirement as CDU state chairman and parliamentary group chairman in Thuringia and the dismissal of the federal government's Eastern Commissioner , Parliamentary State Secretary Christian Hirte, were announced .

State election in Thuringia 2019

Starting position

In October 2019, the party Die Linke became the strongest force in parliament under Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow, who had ruled since 2014, but the previous red-red-green state government lost an absolute majority of the seats in parliament. A Zimbabwe coalition (black-red-yellow-green) preferred by the CDU and FDP also did not receive a majority. Since none of the parties represented in the state parliament wanted to enter into negotiations with the AfD group led by Björn Höcke , there was little prospect of a governing coalition with a parliamentary majority. The only theoretical majority alliances that were publicly discussed by at least one party were red-red-green plus FDP and a coalition of the left with the CDU . In the run-up, the media discussed the possibility that Bodo Ramelow could only continue to hold the office of prime minister without a new parliamentary election.

Cooperation talks

The Thuringian CDU revealed disagreement after the state elections in 2019: While two MPs and some local politicians proposed rapprochement with the AfD, others supported talks with the previous Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow. This also included the state chairman of the CDU Thuringia, Mike Mohring . At the end of October he visited the federal chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer with the intention of meeting Ramelow afterwards . This recalled that for the CDU the "incompatibility of cooperation with the Left Party" still applies and Mohring's contact with Ramelow was only a "parliamentary matter of course".

As early as the end of October, the FDP announced that it would form a coalition with neither the AfD nor the Left.

A meeting between Ramelow and Mohring on January 12, 2020 did not provide any new insights into how and whether the parliamentary opposition could support Ramelow, nor did a meeting between politicians from all parliamentary groups with the exception of the AfD on January 13, 2020.

Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow said after the election that he would fight with the Left Party for a continuation of the red-red-green coalition. The three previous ruling parties signed a government agreement on February 4 to continue the red-red-green alliance as a minority government . The parties involved relied on situational parliamentary cooperation with the CDU and the FDP.

Election of the Prime Minister in February 2020

List of candidates

Left, SPD and Greens put the previous Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow up as a candidate.

The AfD parliamentary group proposed a largely unknown candidate, Christoph Kindervater . The mayor of Sundhausen had previously brought himself into play with a letter to the members of the CDU, the FDP and the AfD for the candidacy for the office of Prime Minister in Thuringia. He was a candidate on the CDU list for the district council of the Unstrut-Hainich district in 2019 and described himself as a supporter of the union of values .

The FDP parliamentary group decided to have its parliamentary group and state chairman Thomas Kemmerich run in the third ballot, if Bodo Ramelow had failed twice before. According to their own statements, this was intended more as a symbolic candidacy to offer a “bourgeois alternative” to the two candidates from the left and right. However, they only wanted to compete if the AfD also sent its own candidate into the race, in order to prevent votes from being received from the AfD because it was assumed that it would vote for its own candidate. The day after the election, Kemmerich admitted in an interview in heute journal that the opposite case should have been expected. Cooperation or consultation with the AfD was ruled out by the FDP at any time. At the same time, there was no plan for the next steps in the establishment of a government.

In the days leading up to the election, the daily press sometimes discussed the possibility “that an applicant from the CDU or FDP wins in the third ballot with the support of the AfD”. The day before the election, the Thuringian SPD state chairman Wolfgang Tiefensee warned the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung of such a “dam break”, which would be “serious damage to democracy” and as such would “radiate far beyond Germany”. Before the election, the FDP parliamentary group briefly discussed the situation in Thuringia and Christian Lindner also warned against relying on votes from the AfD, but the representative of the FDP Thuringia pointed out that this was an internal matter. In addition, according to their own statements, no one expected that the AfD would not vote for their own candidate. According to media reports, however, the CDU federal chairman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had asked Mohring and Lindner, state chief, that Kemmerich not run.

Election of Kemmerich as Prime Minister

Voting results of the three ballots for the election of the Prime Minister

The Thuringian constitution provides that in the first two ballots, whoever is elected by an absolute majority of the members of the state parliament, becomes prime minister. If this does not succeed, there will be a third ballot. In this, the applicant with the most votes is considered elected. Whether a prime minister can be elected with fewer yes votes than no votes is controversial.

In the first ballot, Bodo Ramelow achieved 43 votes, one more vote than the Left, SPD and Greens had together in seats. Christoph Kindervater received 25 votes and thus at least three votes from outside the AfD. 22 MPs abstained. This made a second ballot necessary, as both candidates had missed an absolute majority of 46 votes. In the second ballot, Ramelow received 44 votes and the child father 22 votes, which was exactly the number of MPs for the AfD. 24 MPs abstained.

For the third ballot required as a result, the AfD parliamentary group held on to the candidacy of the child father, and, as announced for this case, Thomas Kemmerich was put forward by the FDP parliamentary group. Kemmerich received 45 votes, Bodo Ramelow 44 and child father 0 votes, one member abstained. Kemmerich was elected as the new Thuringian Prime Minister. The result of the secret vote suggested that the AfD had apparently voted unanimously for Kemmerich, despite the maintenance of Kindervater's candidacy, together with most of the members of the FDP and CDU. This tactical approach was later confirmed by the AfD.

Kemmerich accepted the election without hesitation and was then sworn in. Christian Lindner later justified this by saying that he had been "overwhelmed" by the situation. After Reinhold Maier, he was the second elected FDP minister-president of a country in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, but at the same time the first minister-president ever to come from the ranks of the smallest parliamentary group and to rely on votes from the AfD for his election. In terms of voting rights , the election of the Prime Minister was formally flawless; However, between the Union parties and the FDP on the one hand and the left, the SPD and the Greens on the other, there was a consensus in Thuringia, as well as throughout Germany, not to enter into a coalition with the AfD led by Björn Höcke in Thuringia.

Immediately after the election, Kemmerich once again ruled out any cooperation with the AfD and instead offered the CDU, SPD and the Greens to form a non-partisan cabinet together. However, this was immediately rejected by them. Instead, the previous red-red-green coalition gave him an ultimatum to resign. Even together with the CDU, SPD and the Greens, the FDP would only have held 39 of the 90 seats in the state parliament. Kemmerich waived the subsequent appointment of ministers and requested, on behalf of the FDP parliamentary group, that the state parliament session be postponed for an indefinite period. This was granted with the votes of the AfD, CDU and FDP, against the votes of the Left Party, SPD and Greens.

Conduct of government affairs

Prime Minister a. D. Kemmerich
9. Thuringian state government
Thomas Kemmerich
Prime Minister Thomas Kemmerich
choice 2019
Legislative period 7th
education 5th February 2020
The End 4th March 2020
Duration 0 years and 28 days
predecessor Cabinet Ramelow I
successor Cabinet Ramelow II
Party (s) FDP
minister 0
State Secretaries 12

The ministers of the Ramelow executive cabinet resigned from their offices when Kemmerich took office. Since Kemmerich did not appoint any new ministers, he was the only member of the state government. The ministries were led on an interim basis by the state secretaries appointed under Ramelow; there were no cabinet meetings.

No members were appointed to the Bundesrat, and no representative from Thuringia was present at a meeting of the Bundesrat. The chairmanship of the Conference of Interior Ministers , which has been held by the Thuringian Interior Minister Georg Maier since the beginning of 2020 , was temporarily taken over again by the previous chairman, Hans-Joachim Grote (Interior Minister of Schleswig-Holstein ).

According to the assessment of constitutional law experts Michael Meier and Robert Wille (research assistants at the University of Potsdam ) and Matthias Friehe (qualification professorship for constitutional and administrative law at the EBS University ), the ministers of the Ramelow government continued to be in office from a legal point of view, as the Thuringian state constitution provides that ministers continue their business until the successor takes office.

Ministries State Secretaries
Thuringian State Chancellery Babette Winter
Culture and Europe
Malte Krückels
Media; Authorized representative of the Free State of Thuringia at the federal level
Thuringian Ministry of the Interior and Local Affairs Udo Götze
Uwe Höhn
Thuringian Ministry for Education, Youth and Sport Gabi Ohler
Thuringian Ministry for Migration, Justice and Consumer Protection Sebastian of Ammon
Thuringian Ministry of Finance Hartmut Schubert
Thuringian Ministry for Economy, Science and Digital Society Markus Hoppe
Science and Universities; Head of Office
Valentina Kerst
Economy and Digital Society
Thuringian Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Health, Women and Family Ines after work
Thuringian Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Nature Conservation Olaf Möller
Thuringian Ministry of Infrastructure and Agriculture Klaus Sühl



André Blechschmidt , Bodo Ramelow and Susanne Hennig-Wellsow announcing the results of the 3rd ballot

After the swearing-in, the parliamentary group leader of the Left, Susanne Hennig-Wellsow , refused to shake hands with Thomas Kemmerich and threw the bouquet intended for Ramelow at his feet. In the hall during his inaugural speech from the left came heckling like “charlatan!” And “hypocrite!”, While demonstrators spontaneously gathered in front of the parliament building and in front of the FDP party headquarters in Berlin.

On the day he was voted out, Ramelow posted a tweet in which he drew parallels with the formation of the Baum-Frick government in Thuringia in 1930. This tweet was received controversially, as it was illustrated by a photo each of Höcke's congratulations to Kemmerich and Hitler's bow to President von Hindenburg on the so-called Day of Potsdam in 1933, and was deleted after a few days.

The state spokesman for the AfD Thuringia, Stefan Möller , said of the election process: “That was the whole point of the strategy. So we tried to lure Mr. Kemmerich onto the podium as an opposing candidate. He did that too. And then we chose him as planned. "

Outside Thuringia, Kemmerich's choice initially met with spontaneous approval , especially from the AfD, the conservative union of values and parts of the FDP. First of all, the deputy FDP federal chairman, Wolfgang Kubicki, told the German press agency that, in view of this decision by the “majority of members of the Thuringian state parliament”, “a candidate from the democratic center” had won. He sees this as an opportunity to “advance a sensible policy for Thuringia”. The FDP party chairman Christian Lindner said on the same evening: “Who […] supports our candidates in a secret election is not in our power.” AfD party leader Jörg Meuthen wrote that the result was the “first piece of the mosaic of the political turning point in Germany".

However, the election result and Kemmerich's acceptance of the election soon caused a considerable stir nationwide, as well as criticism from top politicians, including from the FDP. Current and former leading FDP politicians such as Gerhart Baum , Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann , Alexander Lambsdorff and Joachim Stamp called for his immediate resignation. Christian Lindner also finally asked him to resign and described it as a mistake “to have accepted an election under these conditions.” He emphasized that the FDP “did not seek and negotiate, but also not accidentally accidentally [sic !] Cooperation with the AfD ”.

The CDU boss Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that a collaboration with Kemmerich is a violation of the party line, which excludes any cooperation with the AfD, since he would not have come into office without their votes. In connection with the election of Kemmerich, Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke of an “unforgivable process” that must be reversed. The CSU chairman Markus Söder , who called the election “unacceptable”, and the SPD boss Norbert Walter-Borjans , who described it as a “scandal of the first order”, made similar statements . The Green Chairwoman Annalena Baerbock called on Kemmerich to resign immediately and Left Party leader Bernd Riexinger spoke, like many political commentators, of a “dam break”.

The reactions of the Thuringian CDU members of the state parliament were very different. Most gave up to them by the time the question referred, "Why did you do that?" Later on, her voice Kemmerich given as a "candidate of the center" to have but did not expect "that the AFD such cold blood sacrifices to own candidate “- says Raymond Walk . Beate Meißner said: “I cannot say that I would be happy about Kemmerich's election. But I didn't expect the AfD to behave like that. I would not have believed that they would have so much perfidy in parliament to put up a candidate for a sham, nor would I have believed that they would act so unanimously. The Führer principle probably applies there . "

Björn Höcke congratulates Kemmerich on his election

Other CDU MPs, such as Jörg Kellner and Michael Heym , do not regret in retrospect that they voted for Kemmerich or that Kemmerich accepted the election, but rather complain about his resignation, for which they blame the pressure from federal politics. Martin Henkel said that he had hoped "to enable an alliance of CDU, FDP and SPD through the election of the Prime Minister". In contrast, there are a few who claimed to have warned of the outcome of the election - in addition to parliamentary group leader Mike Mohring, above all Thadäus König , but also Thomas Gottweiss .

The former CDU Prime Minister of Thuringia, Dieter Althaus , sharply criticized the behavior of his party and accused it of "political dilettantism". The Union of Values , whose membership numbers rose sharply after Kemmerich's election, congratulated him on his election victory, whereupon the CDU called for a resolution incompatible with membership in the Union of Values. The federal chairman of the Union of Values, Alexander Mitsch , then described it as a scandal that “in the party of Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl, some members prefer a leftist as prime minister instead of an FDP politician”.

Former Belgian Prime Minister and Chairman of the Liberal Group in the EU Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, described the election as "unacceptable".

Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) criticized the events in Erfurt and the reaction of federal politics to the election of the Prime Minister. “The way in which elections, like elected representatives, the election of a prime minister, that is to say a constitutional body, were dealt with is not appropriate in our parliamentary democracy. Democracy lives from the fact that we respect the procedures and the institutions, that applies to everyone, and this has been violated in Erfurt in many ways. "

Political scientist and historian

The political scientist André Brodocz said that the FDP “as a defender of civil rights, as a defender of minorities, opens up at this point to cooperation with a party that has different ideas there”. Withdrawing from the fact that in a secret election one does not know who voted, and not recognizing that this is "also a form of cooperation" appears to be "either politically naive or completely ignorant". According to the political scientist Michael Koß , the events are a "case of flight from the republic". The exclusion of totalitarian or extremist forces was "the basis of business in the Federal Republic". At the federal level, the FDP preferred not to govern than to govern wrongly, and now they are accepting being elected by the “Höcke-AfD”. The CDU has shown itself to be “skeptical” about cooperation with the left, and now it is cooperating “at least indirectly” with the AfD. Political scientist Uwe Jun said the role of the AfD would be significantly upgraded with this “coup” . The historian Norbert Frei criticized Kemmerich's “frivolity”, with which he ran the risk of being elected by “declared anti-democrats”, as a “scandal”. Herfried Münkler saw a “crisis in the political staff” and attested the CDU and FDP either “a considerable unscrupulousness” or “technical naivety”: “That already shows that we are dealing with people who are neither tactical nor tactical are capable of real tasks in strategic terms. "

The political scientist Hajo Funke considered the events to be a “breach of taboo”, but saw no “breach of the dam”; due to the indignant reactions of many people, the dam has become even higher. From “a power perspective”, so Funke, “the AfD has moved even further”. According to the historian Volker Weiß , the AfD votes for an FDP Prime Minister irritated at first glance, but Höcke was trying to “change his image” and wanted to “serve as a serious partner”. Regarding the debates about a possible tolerance of a government by the AfD, the political scientist Albrecht von Lucke said that the Union was thus promoting a “bourgeoisisation strategy” of the AfD. This “glossily conceals the increasing radicalization of the party”. The historian Winfried Süß called the events "devastating" and Kemmerich's behavior "forgotten about history". The strong political polarization is reminiscent of the situation towards the end of the Weimar Republic . The democratic protective wall had been damaged, but dams could be "closed again" and the "political dirty water" could be "pumped out".

The Jena political scientist Torsten Oppelland , however, saw the choice as largely unproblematic. He explained that an election by the AfD does not have to mean any further cooperation with her and that the Greens and SPD are obliged to work with Kemmerich. The Dresden political scientist Werner J. Patzelt evaluated Kemmerich's election as evidence of a failed strategy in dealing with the AfD and stated: "The CDU is now paying the price for its policy of having released the right wing." According to the historian Hannes Army , the events represent a "turning point in the discussion in the Federal Republic of Germany in dealing with the past", but are "not comparable to Weimar". This republic had been unsound, there had been economic crises and a "post-war society with tens of thousands of armed, highly motivated Freikorps men". He attested the CDU and FDP a "real abyss of stupidity".


Journalists described Kemmerich's election as “irresponsible”, “political disgrace”, “unlimited opportunism”, “historic turning point” but also as “an expression of democratic normality”. According to Pascal Beucker , Kemmerich's demarcation from the anti-democratic right is “purely rhetorical in nature”. He is a party functionary who “stands for a renaissance of those long repressed strict national liberal times of the FDP before the social liberal turnaround at the end of the 1960s” and that means “ideologically wide open to the right”.

Benedict Neff , Germany correspondent for the Swiss NZZ , saw no reason to morally condemn the election and said: "This is democracy." It was occasionally pointed out that it was not only Kemmerich who lacked the right concept for dealing with the AfD, but also other established parties. The actual intention of the AfD, according to Guido Bohsem, is “the destruction of the established”. Johannes Boie commented: "The AfD is the only party that has achieved its goal."


Josef Schuster , President of the Central Council of Jews , was “horrified” by the election. This leaves "the FDP the consensus of the democratic parties". Christoph Heubner from the International Auschwitz Committee spoke of a "dam and taboo break in Germany". The fact that “this right-wing extremist Höcke-AfD succeeded so easily in presenting the democratic parties as incapable of consensus is a political disaster with far-reaching consequences,” said Heubner. Similar criticism was expressed by the bishops and leading clergy of the East German Protestant regional churches, as “from a Christian point of view [...] there should be no government with the participation of right-wing extremists”.

During demonstrations against Kemmerich's election on the same day, to which the parties Die Linke, SPD and the Greens as well as other organizations called, several thousand people came together in at least 15 German cities, including 6 Thuringian cities. There were also demonstrations on the following days. On February 15, 2020, between 9,000 and 18,000 people took to the streets against the election under the motto "Not with us - no pact with fascists" in Erfurt.

Due to the events, the "Regional Conference German Sustainability Strategy 2020" in Erfurt was canceled.

Since his election, Kemmerich has been exposed to organized "hatred in the form of threatening letters and mass mails", according to the FDP state executive. A "direct and immediate threat situation" has led to the fact that in addition to the usual personal protection for the Prime Minister, his home and children are now also protected. FDP politicians also found themselves exposed to massive threats and attacks in numerous other places nationwide as a result of the election. Several party headquarters of the FDP were smeared with slogans and damaged. In some cases police protection had to be granted. The domestic politician Konstantin Kuhle spoke of an "absolute [n] escalation". The CDU's NRW headquarters in Düsseldorf was also smeared.

Kemmerich resigns as Prime Minister

On February 6, 2020, the day after the election, Christian Lindner went to Thuringia to persuade Thomas Kemmerich to resign, from which he also tied his own office as party chairman. Thereupon Thomas Kemmerich announced his withdrawal in a press conference on the same day. The FDP parliamentary group announced that it would support a motion to dissolve parliament under Article 50 of the state constitution. Should this application not be successful, Kemmerich announced a vote of confidence in accordance with Article 74 of the state constitution, which would have cleared the way for a new election.

After the coalition committee of the CDU, CSU and SPD in the federal government in consultation with the FDP also called for his immediate resignation on February 8, Kemmerich resigned on the same day with immediate effect. However, he remained in office until the election of a new prime minister on March 4th.

Kemmerich also announced that he would be foregoing the salary he was entitled to as Prime Minister and the transitional allowance to be paid out after the end of his term of office. This would have totaled at least 93,000 euros. If this is not possible, he wants to donate everything that goes beyond his parliamentary remuneration to Thuringian organizations, for example to the association of the victims of Stalinism or to the working group to come to terms with the SED dictatorship. When criticism became loud that former AfD members were also active in the first-mentioned association, he withdrew his announcement in this regard. After Bodo Ramelow was re-elected as his successor, it was clear that the total payments (including the transition allowance and payment for the whole of March) to Kemmerich would amount to around 110,000 euros.

Political Consequences

Federal and state level of the CDU

In the CDU, the internal party differences in dealing with the AfD became particularly clear through the voting behavior of the Thuringian regional association. The CDU state chairman Mike Mohring initially defended Thomas Kemmerich's election despite the massive criticism. After visiting the CDU presidium in Erfurt, he announced his withdrawal from the CDU parliamentary group chairmanship. It was not known whether Mohring actively supported Kemmerich's election. On March 2, 2020, Mario Voigt was elected as the new parliamentary group leader of the CDU Thuringia. Mohring also gave up the chairmanship of the CDU regional association.

The Federal Government Commissioner for the New Federal States Christian Hirte (CDU), who had congratulated Kemmerich on his election on Twitter, asked on February 8, 2020, on the advice of the Chancellor, to be dismissed as Parliamentary State Secretary. This was then done.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced her resignation from the office of CDU federal chairman on February 10th and said the decision had matured "for some time". Most media also saw the resignation as a result of a longer development.

Federal level of the FDP

The federal chairman Christian Lindner put the question of confidence in the federal executive committee on February 7th. He had seen himself exposed to persistent criticism of his reaction to the prime ministerial election because he had initially welcomed the acceptance of the election by the FDP candidate Kemmerich, despite the apparent support of AfD MPs. In a statement, he then admitted that Kemmerich's candidacy had already been a mistake. The board of directors expressed their confidence in him.


Immediately after Thomas Kemmerich's election as prime minister, opinion research institutes in Thuringia carried out election polls in which clear shifts in favor of the left and losses for the CDU became apparent. According to several surveys, the FDP, which had almost reached the five percent hurdle in the state elections, would only reach four percent and would no longer be represented in the state parliament.

Institute date CDU SPD Green FDP left AfD Otherwise.
State election 2019 October 27, 2019 21.7% 8.2% 5.2% 5.0% 31.0% 23.4% 5.1%
INSA February 6, 2020 19% 06% 6% 7% 34% 23% 5%
Forsa February 7, 2020 12% 09% 7% 4% 37% 24% 7%
Infratest dimap February 10, 2020 13% 10% 5% 4% 39% 24% 5%
INSA February 14, 2020 14% 07% 6% 4% 40% 25% 3%
INSA July 30, 2020 22% 9% 6% 4% 35% 21% 3%

Approaches to Overcoming the Government Crisis

New elections

One possible way out of the government crisis was the dissolution of parliament and the associated new elections. According to Article 50 of the Thuringian state constitution , a third of the members of the state parliament would have had to submit a corresponding application and a two-thirds majority would have to approve it.

For example, the black-red coalition at the federal level called for new elections . After a meeting of the coalition committee chaired by Angela Merkel on February 8, 2020, the federal chairmen Norbert Walter-Borjans , Saskia Esken (both SPD), Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) and Markus Söder (CSU) called for new elections to the Thuringian state parliament. It is a novelty in German politics that the chairmen of the parties involved in the federal government have called for a new state parliament to be elected. As an explanation, they gave “reasons for the legitimation of politics”.

In connection with Kemmerich's announcement of his resignation, the FDP parliamentary group announced at state level that it would support a motion to dissolve parliament under Article 50 of the state constitution. The CDU parliamentary group in the state parliament, however, was critical of new elections.

Another point of criticism in new elections was the long time it took to form a new government. The Thuringian state constitution provides that new elections should be held within 70 days of the dissolution of the state parliament. Since Kemmerich is only executive in office, he could neither have asked the question of confidence nor appointed ministers during this time . In this context, Bodo Ramelow (Die Linke) warned of a “fundamental state crisis” and a “political standstill”.

According to the Thuringian state constitution, a dissolution of the state parliament is not possible through a referendum, as is the case in Berlin, for example.

Election of a new prime minister

By electing a new prime minister, Thomas Kemmerich could be replaced in the office of prime minister. To this end, the left, the SPD and the Greens initially considered a constructive vote of no confidence . With Kemmerich's resignation, a normal election became possible. Various candidates were considered for this.

Left, SPD and Greens wanted to elect Bodo Ramelow as prime minister, as originally planned. As in the election on February 5, 2020, they would have needed four additional votes from the CDU or FDP. Alexander Gauland , chairman of the AfD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, recommended that the Thuringian AfD parliamentary group elect Mr. Ramelow in an upcoming election in order to "prevent him safely - because he would not be allowed to accept the office". Torben Braga , the parliamentary managing director of the AfD parliamentary group in the Thuringian state parliament, disagreed with this proposal and said that the AfD had chosen Kemmerich for reasons of content, not just to prevent Ramelow. The parliamentary group of the left in the state parliament rejected a list by Ramelow if there was no firm promise from the CDU or FDP to support the candidacy with the necessary votes.

On the other hand, there were demands for another candidate. The chairman of the CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, suggested that the SPD and the Greens should put up their own candidate “who does not divide the country, but unites it”. Politicians like Volker Bouffier (CDU) or Christian Lindner (FDP), on the other hand, called for a politically independent person to be elected Prime Minister who should prepare new elections in an expert government. Both variants met with rejection from the Left, SPD and Greens. The chief commentator of the world Jacques Schuster welcomed the proposal and commented that Bodo Ramelow's attempt to form an R²G government led by Die Linke despite the lack of a parliamentary majority was the real core of the problem. On the other hand, Karin Prien and Daniel Günther (CDU) saw the CDU's symmetrical distancing from Linker and AfD as "the root of the evil". Cooperation with the left should not be ruled out. Finn Rütten commented in Stern that equating AfD and leftists ( horseshoe theory ) would in no way do justice to the situation in Thuringia. While Björn Höcke spreads ethnic ideas and was only satisfied with the absolute majority, the left has shown for decades that it helps shape democratic, responsible politics when it participates in government. The party researcher Michael Lühmann interpreted the cultivation of the general hostility towards the Left Party as a "life lie" of the CDU in order to distract from its own past as a bloc party .

Technical interim government under Lieberknecht

On February 17, 2020, representatives of the Left Party, the SPD, the Greens and the CDU met for the first time to negotiate with the aim of finding a joint solution to avert the “incipient state crisis” (quote from Ramelow).

In this round, Bodo Ramelow proposed a solution in which new elections and the election of a new Prime Minister would be directly linked. The Diet should its self-dissolution decide yet Christine Lieberknecht (CDU) for the elections to the remaining term of choose as prime minister. He also suggested that Lieberknecht should form a “technical” government in which three key ministries would be filled again: the Ministry of Justice , the Ministry of Finance and the State Chancellery . Christine Lieberknecht had earned respect across party lines during her time as President of the State Parliament (1999–2004) and, as the former Prime Minister of Thuringia (2009–2014), has relevant government experience.

The CDU Thuringia rejected this and suggested that Lieberknecht should remain in office longer than Ramelow intended and should lead a full cabinet of experts . Lieberknecht then withdrew her willingness to run as interim prime minister and announced that she only wanted to accept Ramelow's proposed solution with quick new elections. This "contradiction with the CDU" can "not be resolved". In their opinion, real political stability in the Thuringian state parliament can only be achieved by recognizing the real majority situation and by agreeing on reliable parliamentary cooperation between the CDU and the left.

Elected Prime Minister in March 2020

Agreement on Ramelow as Prime Minister

On February 21, 2020, the Left Party, SPD, Greens and CDU agreed on measures to overcome the government crisis. This met the CDU's wish for the new elections to be postponed, as well as the Red-Red-Green project for the temporary re-election of Ramelow as Prime Minister.

The cooperation between the four parties envisages that Bodo Ramelow will be elected Prime Minister on March 4, 2020 and lead a minority government of the Left, SPD and Greens. In return, it was agreed that new state elections would not take place until April 25, 2021. A so-called “stability mechanism” is supposed to ensure that the government works during this period: The CDU undertakes to coordinate all applications in the state parliament with the governing parties in order to prevent the CDU, FDP and AfD from jointly blocking the government. At the same time, the left, the SPD and the Greens should agree in advance with the CDU on projects. This is also how the state budget should be drawn up for 2021.

With this agreement, the CDU Thuringia violates an incompatibility decision of the federal party, which excludes any cooperation with the left and AfD, as well as with the previous election of Kemmerich, which represented a cooperation with the AfD. The federal level of the CDU therefore rejects the compromise. So said their general secretary Paul Ziemiak, it was "about the [...] basic conviction and basic values ​​[of the CDU] and not about political games." Mike Mohring contradicted, "that the parliamentary group does not refuse stable conditions and offers from others for a stable situation will accept. "

List of candidates

As stated in the agreement reached with the CDU, the Left, SPD and Greens nominated Bodo Ramelow as a candidate.

The AfD announced two days before the election of the prime minister that their parliamentary group leader Björn Höcke would run against Ramelow. According to their parliamentary group leader Torben Braga, they wanted to reveal the voting behavior of the CDU and FDP, because if Ramelow "received more than the 42 votes of the red-red-green camp and was elected as prime minister, it should be clear to every viewer that these votes did not come from the AfD. ”The CDU and FDP would have“ broken their promise not to vote for Ramelow and not to allow the continued existence of red-red-green ”.

The FDP parliamentary group announced that it would boycott the election to make it clear that it rejected both candidates (Ramelow and Höcke).

On the morning of the election, Ramelow stated that he had asked the CDU parliamentary group to abstain from voting because it made no sense "with Höcke's candidacy and the irresponsible disappearance of the FDP [...] to burn CDU members in the first ballot." a simple majority would be sufficient in the third ballot.

Election of Ramelow as Prime Minister

As with the election to the Prime Minister in February 2020, the Thuringian Constitution provides that in the first two ballots, who is elected by the absolute majority of the members of the State Parliament, becomes Prime Minister. If this does not succeed, there will be a third ballot. In it, the applicant with the most votes is considered elected.

In both the first and second ballots on March 4, 2020, Bodo Ramelow received 42 votes that should have come from the parliamentary groups of the Left, SPD and Greens. Björn Höcke received 22 votes each, which corresponded to the strength of the AfD faction. The 21 abstentions in each case should be attributed to the CDU parliamentary group. The FDP was present at the election, but did not vote.

In the third ballot, the AfD parliamentary group withdrew Björn Höcke's candidacy, so that Bodo Ramelow was the only remaining candidate. Ramelow received 42 votes in favor, 23 against and 20 abstentions. He was re-elected Prime Minister.

In his inaugural speech, Ramelow was happy about the end of the government crisis, thanked the CDU in particular for the conclusion of the stability pact and called on the parliamentary groups to work together constructively. He sharply criticized the AfD for setting a trap for the FDP and CDU, and accused them of not respecting parliament and democracy. With this he also justified Björn Höcke, who wanted to congratulate him, to have refused the handshake. He will only shake hands with him when Höcke stops “trampling democracy” and defends it instead.


The general secretary of the SPD, Lars Klingbeil , was relieved by the election of Ramelow. He wrote on Twitter: “The chaos in Thuringia is over for the time being. I am very happy that the FDP and CDU did not break taboos again ”. Katja Kipping , the federal chairwoman of the Left, made a similar statement ; Germany could learn from Thuringia that the right would not win against a “real solidarity alternative”. FDP chairman Lindner thanked Ramelow for criticizing the AfD's tactics in electing Kemmerich in his inaugural address.

The AfD, however, was critical. Federal spokesman Jörg Meuthen accused the CDU and FDP of having helped a left politician into office by abstaining or not taking part. The FDP, on the other hand, emphasized that by refusing to take part in the election, it had expressed its rejection of both candidates. Björn Höcke criticized the new prime minister for having shown a lack of manners by refusing to shake hands. He wanted to show Ramelow that he accepted his democratic election. In the Süddeutsche Zeitung, however , Boris Herrmann wrote of a “well-founded gesture” by Ramelow and a “symbolic deed, perhaps even one for the history books”. Höcke is "not just any AfD politician, but the leader of the wing that has apparently set itself the goal of undermining the system from the far right". His "program, his poisoned language and his undignified tactics in the state parliament" indicated that he "just did not want to belong".

Web links

Commons : Prime Minister election 2020 in Thuringia  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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