Germany AfD: Thuringia PM to quit amid fury over far right
A German state premier elected on Wednesday with the help of the far-right AfD has said he will stand down to pave the way for fresh elections. “Resignation is unavoidable,” he said.
The election of liberal leader Thomas Kemmerich in the eastern state of Thuringia prompted national outrage.
Chancellor Angela Merkel called the election “unforgivable” and said it must be reversed.
For years Germany’s main parties have shunned the AfD.
Mr Kemmerich told reporters on Thursday that his liberal FDP party had decided to request the dissolution of the state parliament in Erfurt.
Wednesday’s vote has been described as a political earthquake for Germany.
The AfD has broad support in Thuringia. But the state election in October was won by the far-left Die Linke, whose leader Bodo Ramelow was ousted from power.
Mr Kemmerich beat Mr Ramelow by 45 votes to 44. Besides the support of the AfD, Mr Kemmerich also got votes from local MPs in his own FDP and Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrat CDU.
However, he insisted there had been no co-operation with the far-right and accused them of carrying out a “perfidious trick to harm democracy”.
‘Bad day for democracy’
Speaking on a visit to South Africa, Chancellor Merkel said the Thuringia vote had to be reversed – implying that the state election would have to be re-run.
“It was a bad day for democracy, a day that broke with the long and proud tradition of the CDU’s values. This is in no way in line with what the CDU thinks, how we have acted throughout our party’s existence,” she said.
Many other politicians had also called for Mr Kemmerich to step down, and for a new election in Thuringia. They included the head of the CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
The Free Democrats’ (FDP) leader, Christian Lindner, had travelled to the state capital Erfurt on Thursday for talks with Mr Kemmerich ahead of the party’s statement.
Some have compared the AfD’s surprise move to the Nazis’ rise to power and there were protests in several German cities after the election.
In 1930 a Nazi entered the Thuringia government – the party’s first big breakthrough in the Weimar Republic, culminating in Adolf Hitler’s appointment as chancellor in 1933.