June 15, 2021

Germany AfD: Thuringia PM quits amid fury over far right

A German state premier elected with the help of the far-right AfD says he is resigning to pave the way for fresh elections.

The election of liberal leader Thomas Kemmerich in the eastern state of Thuringia prompted national outrage.

“Resignation is unavoidable,” he said. For years Germany’s main parties have shunned Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Chancellor Angela Merkel – whose own party also backed Mr Kemmerich – called Wednesday’s election “unforgivable”.

The AfD has grown in popularity in recent years but has been condemned for its extreme views on immigration, freedom of speech and the press.

Wednesday’s vote was described as a political earthquake as it was the first time the AfD helped form a government in Germany, breaking a consensus among the main parties to never work with extremist parties.

AfD: Victim or victor?
Just how far to the right is AfD?
Mr Kemmerich has now announced he will seek new elections in the state, “to remove the stain of the AfD’s support for the office of the premiership”.

He will need a two-thirds majority to dissolve the chamber and bring about a fresh vote.

What happened in Thuringia?
Despite the AfD having broad support in Thuringia, the state election in October was won by the far-left Die Linke. And the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) had just 5% of the vote, barely scraping into the local parliament in the state capital, Erfurt.

But on Wednesday, in the secret vote to pick the leader of the government, Mr Kemmerich of the FDP beat Die Linke’s leader Bodo Ramelow by 45 votes to 44 – thanks to votes from the AfD.

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