Thuringia agreement tilts again: ramelow believes in himself

Parts of the federal CDU criticize the Thuringia compromise. To vote for Ramelow would be fatal for the party. Nevertheless, he firmly expects to be elected.

Bodo Ramelow (left), Mario Voigt (CDU state vice president) and Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD state president) Photo: Martin Schutt/dpa

Left-wing politician Bodo Ramelow remains convinced of his election as Thuringia’s prime minister despite the latest volte-face from the federal CDU. "I firmly believe that I will receive sufficient votes from the democratic groups in the first round of voting on March 4, without having to rely on AfD votes," Ramelow told the Thuringer Allgemeine newspaper. "I gained this certainty in many individual conversations I had with deputies from other democratic factions."

On Friday evening, the Left Party reached a compromise with the SPD, the Greens and the CDU to resolve the government crisis in the state. Part of it, in addition to the state premier election on March 4 in which Ramelow wants to run, is a "stability agreement" under which the CDU wants to help a red-red-green minority government achieve majorities on a project-by-project basis until new elections are held on April 25, 2021. This is intended to ensure that the AfD does not tip the scales in the state parliament. Red-Red-Green is four votes short in the state parliament.

In the federal CDU, however, the agreement of the CDU state association with the other parties is on Saturday on massive rejection. The background is the resolution of a party conference, according to which the CDU rejects "coalitions and similar forms of cooperation with both the Left Party and the Alternative for Germany".

"What is at stake here is nothing less than the credibility of Germany’s CDU as a whole," said Secretary General Paul Ziemiak. The possible candidate for the CDU presidency, former CDU parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz, expressed similar sentiments. He wrote on Twitter that the Thuringian CDU’s decision to vote Ramelow in on a temporary basis "damages the credibility of the CDU throughout Germany."

Spahn also against Ramelow

Jens Spahn, another possible candidate for party chair, spoke out against the Thuringian compromise. He rejects the election of Ramelow with votes from the CDU, the federal health minister tweeted. "It is now about the substance of our party – not only in Thuringia."

CDU, CSU and SPD had spoken out in early February in a meeting of the coalition committee in Berlin for an early election in Thuringia. Before that, a new prime minister should be elected immediately. Thuringia’s CDU wants to avoid swift new elections – probably also because, according to polls, it has plummeted in voters’ favor.

It remained unclear how exactly Ramelow’s election to Thuringia’s state parliament with an absolute majority is to be secured. The Thuringian CDU parliamentary group did not give any guarantees that it would vote for him. It did agree to the agreement on temporary support for a minority government and new elections in April 2021. However, it declared at the same time: it does not "actively vote for Bodo Ramelow as prime minister in the Thuringian state parliament."

Ramelow told the Thuringer Allgemeine: "There is no agreement whatsoever with the CDU that their faction will elect me." He added that this had not even been talked about. "On the contrary: instead, we have consistently talked about the fact that the Thuringian CDU must, of course, observe its federal resolutions. That was the starting position and was respected by all four factions at the table."

The government crisis was triggered by the election of FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich as prime minister on Feb. 5 with votes from the FDP, CDU and AfD. Following his resignation, he is now only in office on a caretaker basis and without a minister.