Ramelow now wants to lead a red-red-green minority government. The AfD sends the independent Mayor Christoph Kindervater into the race. But the CDU and FDP could also create their own applicants at short notice. The simple majority is sufficient in the third ballot.
Leading politicians from the SPD, the Greens and the Left warned the CDU against choosing an opposing candidate with the support of the AfD as head of government. “If a candidate is elected with the votes of the AfD, it is not a mistake – a fire protection wall is torn down,” said Greens boss Robert Habeck of the “Tagesspiegel” (Wednesday). “The CDU has made it clear several times that there can be no cooperation with the AfD. It must now prove that in Thuringia too.”
The parliamentary manager of the SPD parliamentary group, Carsten Schneider, told the “Tagesspiegel” with regard to the CDU: “If it has actually clarified its relationship with the enemies of democracy, it cannot put up a candidate for the office of prime minister with the prospect of success.”
The chairman of the left faction in the Bundestag, Dietmar Bartsch, reminded the CDU of its responsibility. “I expect that in the election she will behave in such a way that Bodo Ramelow becomes prime minister and that she will then be a constructive opposition in the state parliament and will work with the new government on issues that advance Thuringia,” he told the newspapers of the Funke media group.
The former Thuringian Prime Minister Bernhard Vogel (CDU) also warned in the “Rheinische Post”: “The CDU must not be able to use the AfD’s votes to provide the Prime Minister.”
When Ramelow became head of government in 2014, he was the first prime minister of the left in Germany. In the state election in autumn 2019, however, red-red-green lost the majority. Together, the Left, SPD and Greens now have only 42 out of 90 seats in the state parliament. The AfD has 22 seats.
An absolute majority is required in the first two ballots to be elected Prime Minister. In the third ballot, the relative majority is sufficient – the person who gets the most votes from the candidates is then chosen. Other spontaneous candidacies are also possible. Possible scenarios:
- Absolute majority for Ramelow
With his targeted alliance of the Left, SPD and Greens, Ramelow is missing four votes in parliament. The Erfurt political scientist André Brodocz believes it is possible that members of the FDP and CDU also vote for the 63-year-old. Even among political observers in Thuringia, this variant is not unlikely – especially since some CDU MPs are not satisfied with the course of their parliamentary leader Mike Mohring. A surprising success for Ramelow could be seen as a swatter for Mohring despite the secret vote.
- Ramelow is elected in the third ballot
This scenario is considered likely, but it also has its pitfalls. In the third ballot, Ramelow only needs a relative majority. If the opposing candidate of the AfD remains in the race, the 42 votes from the left, the SPD and the Greens would probably be enough for Ramelow. Because even if there were voices in the Thuringian CDU parliamentary group in the past that did not want to rule out cooperation with the AfD, it is unlikely that it would be enough to give a AfD candidate a relative majority.
If the AfD withdraws its candidates and Ramelow stands alone in the third ballot, experts say Thuringia could face a constitutional crisis. It is legally controversial whether Ramelow would have been elected head of government with more no than yes votes. It is conceivable, for example, that this question ends up before the Constitutional Court.
- Thuringia’s FDP leader Thomas Kemmerich becomes prime minister
It is considered improbable, but not entirely impossible: that an FDP man becomes prime minister. The third ballot is also important here. FDP party and faction leader Thomas Kemmerich wants to run in the third ballot if only Ramelow and an AfD applicant are in the race. If the CDU does not send its own candidates, Kemmerich’s Christian Democrats’ votes are certain – the replacement of Ramelow and his red-red-green alliance was one of the CDU’s most important campaign goals.
In this case, it would depend on the AfD: If the AfD deputies leave their own candidate in the rain and choose Kemmerich, he could actually become prime minister. Kemmerich himself has already announced that he would accept the election. Thoughts are an issue in political operations in Erfurt, but they are not given many opportunities. The liberals had entered parliament in the state election at the end of October with a historically scarce result.