Ramelow is without a majority

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.

Merkel proposes invitation from Hong Kong activists

Angela Merkel travels to China on Thursday. An activist from Hong Kong had asked her for help in conflict with the country. She does not plan to meet the activists.

The Federal Government has been reluctant to respond to the request of an activist in Hong Kong for assistance. Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken note of the open letter from Joshua Wong on the media, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

On the question of whether Chancellor Wong and other activists will meet in their upcoming visit to China, said Seibert, the travel program for Merkel had not changed. The program does not provide for such meetings.

Activist: Wish us courage and determination

In principle, the Federal Government advocates a solution in dialogue without violence, said Seibert. This dialogue must be conducted on the basis of Hong Kong’s “Basic Law,” said Seibert. The Basic Law grants people in the Special Administrative Region fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and assembly.

Wong asked Merkel for help in Merkel’s “Bild” letter: “We hope that you show courage and determination against authoritarian injustices that inspired Germany and Europe before the end of the Cold War and that show Europe today.” Merkel breaks for a three-day trip to China on Thursday.

Merkel talks with Putin about Ukraine summit

Germany and France have more recently interfered again in the Ukraine conflict, urging Moscow to a summit meeting. Does Kremlin boss Putin give diplomacy a chance?

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the announced Ukraine summit in the so-called Normandy format. In a telephone conversation on Thursday, both politicians had agreed to continue the preparations for such a meeting between Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine in order to advance the agreements of the Minsk peace agreement, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

French President Emmanuel Macron had announced the summit on Monday for September. According to Merkel, it should take place in Paris. In the east of Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government troops have been fighting since 2014. Germany and France have been trying for five years to mediate in the Normandy format between Ukraine and Russia. The last summit meeting in this format took place in Berlin in 2016.

Merkel and Putin also talk about Syria

According to Seibert, Merkel and Putin emphasized with regard to Ukraine the urgency to accelerate negotiations on future gas transit contracts. In addition, they had exchanged views on the situation in the civil war Syria.

They talked in particular about the military escalation in the north-west of the country and the entry into a political process led by the United Nations to overcome the conflict. The topic of the conversation was accordingly the situation in Libya.

The German economy is weakening

The economy in Germany has cooled noticeably. Should economic growth be spurred on by spending billions – and should new debt be made for it? The calls are getting louder. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz have so far made it clear that they want to stick to their course of “black zero” – a policy without new debt.

In the first half of the year, the German tax authorities achieved a surplus of 45.3 billion euros despite the economic downturn. This awakens desires. “Germany is one foot in recession and Olaf Scholz swims in the money,” says FDP faction vice Christian Dürr. He calls for tax relief “so that companies can take new confidence and invest in the future.”

Long phase of recovery

Left-wing vice-president Fabio De Masi demands that the federal government take advantage of the historically low interest rates and “make urgently needed massive investments.” Investment in public infrastructure would encourage private investment and would secure thousands of jobs.

The recession year 2009 was followed by a long phase of recovery in Germany with booming tax revenues. Since 2014, the federal budget has been achieving a “black zero” every year. But due to the weaker economy, tax revenues are not so strong as the tax estimate showed in May. Scholz had to refinish the Budget 2020 and tighten his belt.

And the prospects are not rosier: The hope for an economic recovery in the second half of the year is dwindling. In the second quarter, gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.1 percent compared to the beginning of the year, weighed down by international trade conflicts and the slowdown in the global economy. In addition, there is Brexit. Industry President Dieter Kempf feared that full-year growth could fall to zero should the British exit the EU at the end of October in a chaos Brexit without agreements. So far, the industry association BDI expects economic growth of no more than 0.5 percent this year.

Jewish man attacked in Berlin

A Jewish man is said to have been attacked in the middle of the day in Berlin-Charlottenburg.

The 55-year-old said he was recognizable as a Jew because of his clothes, the police said on Wednesday. Two people had run behind him on Tuesday, one had suddenly stabbed him in the back, and he was overthrown. Subsequently, the duo fled. Because of pain in the head and in one leg, the 55-year-old finally alerted the rescue service from home.

The police assume an anti-Semitic background, a spokesman said on Wednesday. The state police responsible for political offenses was investigating hate crime.

Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt reacted in dismay to the attack: “It is absolutely bitter to see that Jews on German roads are increasingly exposed to an anti-Semitic attack series.” Hate contributions in parliaments and social media ensured that public security for Jews living in Germany would become increasingly fragile, said the president of the European Rabbis Conference.

In late July, the rabbi of the Jewish community, Yehuda Teichtal, was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack in Berlin. Two men cursed and spit at Teichtal, who was accompanied by one of his children and had previously conducted a service in the district of Wilmersdorf. Hundreds later took part in a solidarity prayer, including Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) and his partner Natalia Wörner.

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, has demanded more civil courage in the fight against anti-Semitism. “(That) just starts at the regular’s table,” said Schuster in an interview with the Bavarian TV. “Since you also have the courage to say when you say: You, are you really aware of what you just said?” Schuster called an example from everyday life.

“I have the feeling that the individual in German society sees this question or this problem of anti-Semitism as a marginal phenomenon to which he may not even attach so much importance,” said Schuster. “I feel, not only in Germany but especially in Germany, that the general social climate is changing, that obviously also red lines are being postponed,” said the president of the Central Council.

Berlin Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) announced to appoint an anti-Semitism officer for the police. This should “police train even more, anti-Semitic incidents to recognize, intervene accordingly and address this issue,” said the SPD politician of the “Berliner Zeitung” (Wednesday). In addition, State Secretary Torsten Akmann (SPD) convene a roundtable against anti-Semitism.