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PM of Germany’s Thuringia resigns, calls for dissolution of state parliament after scandalous vote brought him to power

PM of Germany’s Thuringia resigns, calls for dissolution of state parliament after scandalous vote brought him to power
The PM of the German state of Thuringia has called for the regional parliament to be dissolved after his election unleashed a massive scandal when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU joined forces with right-wing AfD to support him.

A vote for Thuringia’s new prime minister in the regional legislature sent shockwaves across Germany as an unlikely candidate was elected through a alliance of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and anti-establishment forces from Alternative for Germany (AfD), something widely considered taboo. 

Last October’s polls left Thuringia in a sort of limbo since the previous broad left-wing ruling coalition lost majority in the legislature while the Left Party still emerged as the strongest force in the parliament. The expectations were that the former premier Bodo Ramelow, who still formally holds the strongest mandate, would then be re-elected to form a minority government.

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Yet, it is Thomas Kemmerich from the liberal Free Democrats, who holds just five seats in the local parliament, who surprisingly came out as the winner of Wednesday’s vote and immediately assumed his mandate.

The key to his success was a strikingly unanimous vote by the Christian Democrats and the AfD, the third and the second largest factions in the parliament respectively. The fact that the action was taken against the wishes of the CDU federal leadership only added fuel to the fire.

In the face of a massive scandal, the newly elected regional prime minister announced that he and his faction would call for new elections while he himself will step down.

“[My] resignation is inevitable, this parliament’s dissolution is inevitable,” he told journalists on Thursday. While seemingly having no hard feelings on Wednesday, Kemmerich announced today that the whole situation was apparently a result of some ploy by AfD.

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The scandal has become another blow for Germany’s governing coalition as well, since a pact with AfD “broke with a long and proud tradition of the CDU’s values,” as Merkel put it.

The Social Democrats, a junior partner in the coalition, demanded a “clear stand” from the chancellor’s party and for it to distance itself from the controversial right-wing party. The coalition partners have so far agreed to call a “crisis meeting” on Saturday to discuss the issue.

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