A month after the election drama in Thuringia, the parliamentarians of the Free State want to elect another prime minister this Wednesday. The party of the former incumbent Bodo Ramelow uses the candidacy of the AfD politician Björn Höcke as a reprisal. The far right has no chance.
According to the Left Party, everything in Thuringia is about: “Bodo or barbarism”. With this slogan, the state and parliamentary group leader of the party, Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, was already drumming in the state election campaign for the former and probably future Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow. Everyone is talking about the alliteration again. Hennig-Wellsow tweeted at the beginning of the week that the latter had to be made aware that there was “no alternative” to Ramelow. The Democrats – written by them “Democrat: inside” – should stick together regardless of all differences.
Elected, but politically at the end: Thomas Kemmerich
“No alternative”: This is not meant as a statement, but as a threat. On Wednesday, the 90 deputies want to try a second time to elect a new prime minister. At the first attempt on February 5, the FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich had beaten the opponent Ramelow as surprisingly as just in the third ballot, with the votes of the FDP, CDU – and AfD. This was a barbaric result, not only from the point of view of Ramelow and his comrades, because it tipped the right-wing radicals over the democratic scales. Kemmerich announced his withdrawal under massive public pressure. De iure, he has been the Prime Minister since then, in fact his political life is over.
The #AfD puts her extremely right figurehead # Höcke as an MP candidate. The last one has to realize that there is no alternative @bodoramelow gives. The democrats must hold together – regardless of the differences. #never again #Thuringia #bodooderbarbarei #mpwahl # 0403 https://t.co/ko64TCNAH7
– Susanne Hennig (@SusanneHennig) March 2, 2020
If Thuringia’s deputies go into the first ballot again, Ramelow is still missing four votes for the absolute majority; his own party, Greens and SPD together have only 42 deputies. The four missing votes must still come from the CDU (21 deputies) or the FDP (5). The AfD, the second strongest member of the state parliament with 22 deputies, wants to send its political group and state chairman Björn Höcke into the race as opposing candidates this time.
“No alternative”: This motto of the Left Party should build pressure so that enough votes for Ramelow come together in the first ballot. On the other hand, the AfD is trying to bring the two bourgeois parties into trouble as well. If Ramelow receives more than the 42 votes of the red-red-green camp and is elected prime minister, “it should be clear to every viewer that these votes did not come from the AfD,” said parliamentary group leader Torben Braga. In that case, the CDU and FDP would have broken their promise not to elect Ramelow.
Bredouille, it seems. If there are not at least four CDU or FDP parliamentarians in the first ballot who vote for Ramelow, the Left Party could try to brand both parties as a threat to democracy in the Free State. According to the motto: They play with fire. A number of German commentators should support them in this. On the other hand, such a vote would not only put the Berlin party headquarters of the CDU and FDP in need of explanation, but would also delight the AfD and, with it, fuel all those voices in the country that Germany‘s established parties have been wrongly calling the distinctive «system» for years. defame.
Deputies are “only responsible to their conscience”
It cannot be predicted how the vote will go. Supposedly there is an agreement that Ramelow should secure in the first ballot exactly the number of votes that he needs. However, the following also applies in Thuringia: the mandate is free. Article 53 of the state constitution states: «The deputies are the representatives of all citizens of the country. They are not bound by orders and instructions and are only responsible for their conscience. » Translated: No deal, no party headquarters, no editorial and no supposed barbarism can dictate anything to parliamentarians. In the event that Ramelow receives fewer than 46 votes in the first ballot, the second and third ballots remain. According to Article 70 of the state constitution, a simple majority of votes is sufficient in the final count.
Now, given the mood in Thuringia, you have to be careful with every forecast. But the simple majority of votes in the third ballot may be considered safe in Ramelow’s case. That would also be the case if the FDP parliamentary group were to “completely skip election day”, as the “Bild” newspaper reported on Tuesday. And it would be the same if the AfD repeated their February maneuver and took their own candidate out of the race in the third ballot. Since Ramelow would not be dependent on the voices of the Höcke faction, there would be no blackmail potential. The talk of barbarism would have been resolved in the third ballot at the latest.
On Tuesday, it was temporarily unclear whether the Prime Minister election could take place as planned because a Thuringian CDU MP was considered a suspected corona case. In the evening, however, the all-clear came: The test for the virus was negative.