2019 Thuringian state election

The 2019 Thuringian state election was held on 27 October 2019 to elect the members of the 7th Landtag of Thuringia. The incumbent government was a coalition consisting of The Left, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and The Greens, led by Minister-President Bodo Ramelow. The Left became the largest party for the first time in any German state, but the election resulted in a hung parliament as the governing coalition fell 4 seats short of an overall majority. As The Left and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) together hold a negative majority, no politically realistic majority government exists.

2019 Thuringian state election

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All 90 seats of the Landtag of Thuringia
46 seats needed for a majority
Registered1,729,242 Decrease 4.6%
Turnout1,121,814 (64.9%)
Increase 12.2%
  First party Second party Third party
  2019-10-27 Wahlabend Thüringen by Sandro Halank–57.jpg 2019-10-27 Wahlabend Thüringen by Sandro Halank–88.jpg 2019-10-27 Wahlabend Thüringen by Sandro Halank–93.jpg
Leader Bodo Ramelow Björn Höcke Mike Mohring
Party Left AfD CDU
Last election 28 seats, 28.2% 11 seats, 10.6% 34 seats, 33.5%
Seats won 29 22 21
Seat change Increase 1 Increase 11 Decrease 13
Popular vote 343,780 259,382 241,049
Percentage 31.0% 23.4% 21.7%
Swing Increase 2.8% Increase 12.8% Decrease 11.8%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  2019-10-27 Wahlabend Thüringen by Sandro Halank–64.jpg 2019-10-27 Wahlabend Thüringen by Sandro Halank–69.jpg
2016-02-25 Dirk Adams by Olaf Kosinsky-1.jpg
2019-10-27 Wahlabend Thüringen by Sandro Halank–37.jpg
Leader Wolfgang Tiefensee Anja Siegesmund
& Dirk Adams
Thomas Kemmerich
Party SPD Green FDP
Last election 12 seats, 12.4% 6 seats, 5.7% 0 seats, 2.5%
Seats won 8 5 5
Seat change Decrease 4 Decrease 1 Increase 5
Popular vote 90,987 57,474 55,493
Percentage 8.2% 5.2% 5.0%
Swing Decrease 4.2% Decrease 0.5% Increase 2.5%

Thüringen Landtagswahlkarte 2019.svg
Results for the direct mandates.

Minister-President before election

Bodo Ramelow
Left

Elected Minister-President

Thomas Kemmerich
FDP

On 5 February 2020, the Landtag voted to elect the Minister-President. Ramelow was expected to be re-elected to lead a minority government, since the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) declined to run a candidate, and neither the AfD's candidate nor the Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader Thomas Kemmerich were expected to garner enough votes to win. However, on the third ballot, Kemmerich was unexpectedly elected, winning 45 votes to incumbent Ramelow's 44. The votes for Kemmerich came from the FDP, CDU and, controversially, the AfD. This was the first time the AfD had been involved in the election of a head of government in Germany. This was highly controversial, sparking protest throughout both Thuringia and Germany and condemnation from politicians nationwide, including federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, who described it as "unforgivable".[1]

Under intense pressure, Kemmerich announced his resignation just two days later, but remained in office in a caretaker capacity until the Landtag could elect another Minister-President.[1] On 4 March, a second vote was held, and Bodo Ramelow was re-elected as Minister-President with the abstentions of the CDU and FDP.[2]

Election dateEdit

According to § 18 of the Thuringian Electoral Law for the Landtag,[3] the Landtag election must take place on a Sunday or public holiday at the earliest 57 months after the beginning of the current parliamentary term on 14 October 2014[4] and at the latest 61 months after, i.e. at the earliest 21 July 2019 and at the latest 10 November 2019.[5] On 28 August 2018, the Thuringian Land government announced that the election was to take place on 27 October 2019.[6]

Opinion pollsEdit

Graphical summaryEdit

 

Party pollingEdit

Polling firm Fieldwork date Sample
size
CDU Linke SPD AfD Grüne NPD FDP Others Lead
2019 state election 27 Oct 2019 21.7 31.0 8.2 23.4 5.2 0.5 5.0 4.9 7.6
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 23–24 Oct 2019 1,177 26 28 9 21 7 5 4 2
Civey 25 Sep–23 Oct 2019 3,029 22.9 30.2 8.2 23.2 7.4 5.0 3.1 7.0
INSA 14–21 Oct 2019 1,010 24 28 9 24 8 5 2 4
Infratest dimap 14–16 Oct 2019 1,001 24 29 8 24 7 4 4 5
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 14–16 Oct 2019 1,004 26 27 9 20 8 5 5 1
Civey 2–26 Sep 2019 3,035 24.2 25.3 8.4 22.3 9.2 5.0 5.8 1.1
INSA 16–23 Sep 2019 1,010 23 29 9 24 9 4 2 5
Infratest dimap 10–14 Sep 2019 1,001 22 28 7 25 8 5 5 3
INSA 12–19 Aug 2019 1,009 24 26 9 21 11 4 5 2
Infratest dimap 24–29 Jul 2019 1,001 21 25 8 24 11 5 6 1
INSA 18–24 Jun 2019 1,005 26 24 10 20 10 5 5 2
Civey 15 May–12 Jun 2019 2,981 26.5 20.8 9.6 22.5 10.1 5.2 5.3 4.0
2019 European election 26 May 2019 24.7 13.8 11.0 22.5 8.6 1.0 4.4 15.0 2.2
INSA 21–24 May 2019 1,029 26 25 11 20 8 5 5 1
INSA 11–22 Apr 2019 1,001 27 25 10 19 7 6 6 2
Civey 19 Mar–16 Apr 2019 1,320 28.6 24.3 11.0 19.5 7.3 4.9 4.4 4.3
INSA 19–25 Mar 2019 1,008 27 24 10 20 8 5 6 3
Infratest dimap 19–23 Mar 2019 1,005 28 24 11 20 8 5 4 4
INSA 22 Oct–17 Nov 2018 1,000 23 22 12 22 12 6 3 1
Infratest dimap 20–25 Aug 2018 1,000 30 22 10 23 6 5 4 7
INSA 29 May–1 Jun 2018 1,028 31 26 10 18 6 5 4 5
INSA 9–19 Feb 2018 1,267 32 24 10 18 7 5 4 8
INSA 9–13 Oct 2017 1,002 31 20 13 20 4 7 5 11
2017 federal election 24 Sep 2017 28.8 16.9 13.2 22.7 4.1 1.2 7.8 5.3 6.0
INSA 24–28 Jul 2017 1,007 37 22 11 18 4 5 3 15
Infratest dimap 12–17 Jun 2017 1,000 37 27 10 13 5 4 4 10
INSA 5–11 Apr 2017 1,005 33 22 15 19 5 4 2 11
INSA 15–25 Nov 2016 1,002 31 23 13 20 6 4 3 8
Infratest dimap 15–19 Nov 2016 1,000 32 23 12 21 6 3 3 9
INSA 17–21 Jun 2016 1,001 31.5 26 11.5 17.5 7 3.5 3 5.5
Infratest dimap 10–15 Jun 2016 1,701 32 25 11 19 7 6 7
INSA 4–12 Apr 2016 1,000 31 26.5 13 15 8.5 4 2 4.5
INSA 4–11 Jan 2016 1,002 33.5 27 14.5 13.5 7 4.5 6.5
INSA 7–12 Oct 2015 1,017 35.5 24.5 15.5 12 6.5 6 11
Infratest dimap 9–14 Sep 2015 1,000 35 27 13 9 7 4 5 8
INSA 1–6 Jul 2015 1,006 38 30 11 8 6 2 2 3 8
Infratest dimap 28 May–1 Jun 2015 1,002 34 27 14 8 7 3 2 5 7
INSA 23–27 Mar 2015 1,004 38 28 11 7 7 3 6 10
INSA 26 Jan–2 Feb 2015 1,000 40 29 11 10 6 4 11
2014 state election 14 Sep 2014 33.5 28.2 12.4 10.6 5.7 3.6 2.5 3.6 5.3

Election resultEdit

Summary of the 27 October 2019 election results for the Landtag of Thuringia
 
Party Votes % +/- Seats +/- Seats %
The Left (Die Linke) 343,780 31.0  2.8 29  1 32.2
Alternative for Germany (AfD) 259,382 23.4  12.8 22  11 24.4
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 241,049 21.7  11.8 21  13 23.3
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 90,987 8.2  4.2 8  5 8.9
Alliance 90/The Greens (Grünen) 57,474 5.2  0.5 5  1 5.6
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 55,493 5.0  2.5 5  5 5.6
National Democratic Party of Germany 6,044 0.5  3.1 0 ±0 0
Others 54,179 4.9  1.4 0 ±0 0
Valid votes 1,108,388 98.8  0.2
Blank and invalid votes 13,426 1.2  0.2
Total 1,121,814 100.0 90  1
Electorate / voter turnout 1,729,242 64.9  12.2
Source: Thüringer Landesamt für Statistik

The Left became the strongest party in a state election for the first time since German reunification. The FDP won seats in an eastern state parliament for the first time since the 2009 Brandenburg state election. Whether the FDP would pass the 5% electoral threshold was unclear for much of election night, but the preliminary results showed them entering the Landtag by a margin of just six votes. This increased to 73 votes in the final results announced on 7 November.

The AfD doubled its performance from 10.6% and 11 seats to 23.4% and 22 seats. The CDU, which had been the largest party in Thuringia since the state's first election in 1990 and had governed uninterrupted until 2014, suffered its worst ever result. It lost more than 11 percentage points and fell to third place, winning just 22.5% of the vote; clearly missing its goal of returning to the head of the Thuringian government. The Greens' federal co-leader Annalena Baerbock said she was disappointed with her party's performance, an anomaly among a string of record-breaking results achieved by the party since late 2018, and that the election reinforced the need to invest more time and energy in civil society in eastern Germany. She stated she was "devastated" by the huge gains made by the AfD, referring to the party as "fascistic". The AfD was described as such at various times in the aftermath of the election by both participants and observers. This was particularly true of their state leader Björn Höcke due to his comments and publications, as well as a recent court ruling which stated that the description of Höcke as a fascist "rests on verifiable fact".

Government formationEdit

The red-red-green coalition of The Left, the SPD, and The Greens which previously governed the state lost their majority in the legislature, and are a total of four seats short. The CDU ruled out cooperation with the Left, and all parties ruled out any cooperation with AfD.

An open letter published on 5 November, signed by 17 state CDU members, caused controversy. The letter urged the CDU to hold discussions with "all democratically elected parties" in the Landtag before ruling out any coalition partnerships, and was criticized by members of the national CDU and other parties, who interpreted it as a veiled call to work with AfD. Earlier in the week, deputy state party leader Michael Heym also publicly suggested exploring the possibility of a CDU–AfD–FDP coalition.[7]

The result provided for two possible majority governments not including AfD: a Left–CDU coalition (also potentially including the SPD and/or Greens), or a Left–SPD–Green–FDP coalition. The former would be ideologically unwieldy but command a stable majority, while the latter had only been tried on local level, and would only hold a slim majority of two seats. Both were considered infeasible due to ideological differences and pledges made by both the CDU and FDP not to work with The Left. Minister-President Ramelow invited CDU leader Mohring to formal exploratory talks during the week of 4 November, but withdrew the invitation on 9 November, claiming Mohring had violated discretion by publicly displaying text messages between them. At the same time, CDU state leader Raymond Walk reiterated his party's rejection of any partnership with the Left.[8]

Election of KemmerichEdit

After the breakdown of coalition talks, Ramelow announced his intention to continue leading a red-red-green minority government. At the opening of parliament on 5 February 2020, Ramelow stood for election as Minister-President, while the AfD nominated independent local mayor Christoph Kindervater. The election process involves two ballots in which a candidate requires an absolute majority (46 affirmative votes) to be elected, after which a third and final ballot requires only a plurality. FDP leader Thomas Kemmerich announced he would also stand on this third ballot if one were held. Ramelow received 43 votes on the first ballot and 44 on the second, short of a majority. Kemmerich entered the contest on the third ballot. He unexpectedly received the support of the CDU, FDP, and AfD, being electde with 45 votes, while Ramelow received 44.

Minister-President election
Ballot → 5 February 2020
Required majority → 46 out of 90  N 46 out of 90  N Simple  Y
Bodo Ramelow
43 / 90
44 / 90
44 / 90
Christoph Kindervater
25 / 90
22 / 90
0 / 90
Thomas Kemmerich Did not run Did not run
45 / 90
Abstentions
22 / 90
24 / 90
1 / 90

This was highly unexpected, as neither the CDU or AfD had publicly expressed any intention to support Kemmerich. The CDU was expected to abstain on the third ballot as it did on the first two. The AfD did not withdraw their candidate Kindervater on the third ballot; he stood, but received no votes.

This marked the first time a state head of government had been elected with the support of the AfD. The leftist parties as well as some within the federal FDP sharply criticized the CDU for breaking the cordon sanitaire surrounding the AfD. Previously, there had been a general agreement among all other parties that the AfD should be denied any influence in government, and should not be negotiated nor worked with on any level. The apparent cooperation between the three parties in Thuringia was viewed as having broken this agreement. CDU leader Mohring stated that his party supported Kemmerich as a centrist compromise candidate, reiterated that they would not work with AfD, and called on Kemmerich to make clear the AfD would not be invited into any governing coalition, though this would also leave Kemmerich with no workable bloc with which to govern.[9] The Left and Greens immediately ruled out working with Kemmerich, and called for new elections.[10]

Outgoing Minister-President Ramelow drew parallels between AfD's role in Kemmerich's election and the rise of the Nazi Party. Protests were held in several German cities after the election, including in the Thuringian capital of Erfurt, where 1,000 protestors demonstrated outside the Landtag as Kemmerich delivered his acceptance speech.[11] Federal SPD leaders Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken stated they would withdraw their party from the federal CDU–SPD government if Kemmerich did not resign immediately.[12]

Federal CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer criticized the state CDU for "[acting] against the wishes" of the federal party, and raised the possibility of new elections as the "cleanest" way to break the deadlock.[13] In a later statement on Twitter, she asked state CDU legislators to abstain from participating in a Kemmerich cabinet and directly called for new elections.[10] Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, on a state visit to South Africa when the vote took place, condemned it in a statement: "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."[1] Christian Hirte, federal commissioner for the new states of Germany, was dismissed from cabinet after tweeting his congratulations to Kemmerich after the election.[14]

A letter sent to Kemmerich by AfD leader Björn Höcke shortly after the 2019 election led to speculation that AfD's support for Kemmerich was planned and coordinated. In the letter, Höcke offered AfD support for either a non-partisan technocratic government or an FDP minority government.[15] Despite this, Kemmerich and his party denied having any knowledge of AfD's intentions.[1]

On 8 February, Kemmerich announced his resignation and stated his support for new elections.[16] According to state law, a motion to dissolve parliament and call snap elections would require a one-third majority (30 votes) to come to the floor and a two-thirds majority (60 votes) to pass; a vote of confidence on the Minister-President would require 46 votes to pass or result in a new Minister-President election upon failure.[10] Despite his resignation, Kemmerich remained in office in a caretaker capacity until the Landtag could hold a new election for Minister-President.

Election of RamelowEdit

Following discussions, The Left, CDU, SPD, and Greens announced on 21 February 2020 that they had reached an agreement to hold a new election for Minister-President on 4 March 2020, and a new state election on 25 April 2021. The four parties stated they would support Bodo Ramelow for Minister-President, and that he will lead an interim government for the next 13 months until the election is held. This government will comprise the same red-red-green arrangement which governed Thuringia from 2014 to February 2020, but will not seek to pass a budget before the election.[17] Between them, the four parties hold 63 of the 90 seats in the Landtag (70%), more than the two-thirds required to dissolve the Landtag and trigger an early election.

On 4 March, a second vote was held, and Ramelow was elected Minister-President on the third ballot.[2]

Minister-President election
Ballot → 4 March 2020
Required majority → 46 out of 90  N 46 out of 90  N Simple  Y
Bodo Ramelow
42 / 90
42 / 90
42 / 90
Björn Höcke
22 / 90
22 / 90
Did not run
Against N/A
23 / 90
Abstentions
26 / 90
26 / 90
20 / 90

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Germany AfD: Thuringia PM quits amid fury over far right". BBC. 8 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Germany's Thuringia gets left-wing state premier in re-run vote". 4 March 2020.
  3. ^ landesrecht.thueringen.de
  4. ^ Konstituierende Sitzung des 6. Landtags, auf thueringer-landtag.de
  5. ^ Wahltermine in Thüringen, auf wahlen.thueringen.de
  6. ^ Landtagswahl in Thüringen soll am 27. Oktober 2019 stattfinden, auf thueringer-allgemeine.de, abgerufen am 28. August 2018.
  7. ^ "Could Merkel's Christian Democrats really work with the far-right AfD?". www.thelocal.de. 5 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Kein Treffen von CDU-Chef mit Ramelow". Süddeutsche.de (in German). DPA. 9 November 2019.
  9. ^ Kohrs, Camilla (5 February 2020). "Thüringen: FDP-Mann Kemmerich ist Ministerpräsident". Süddeutsche.de (in German).
  10. ^ a b c "Reaktionen auf Kemmerichs Wahl: "Das Beste wären Neuwahlen"". tagesschau.de (in German). 5 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Desolation and hope in German city of Erfurt after far-rgiht vote". Deutsche Welle. 9 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Merkel Just Gave Her Party Chief a Lesson in Crisis Management". Bloomberg. 8 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Landtag: Kramp-Karrenbauer: Thüringer CDU handelte gegen unseren Willen". Die Zeit (in German). 5 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Germany AfD: Merkel fires minister over far right row". BBC News. 8 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Nach Landtagswahl: Höcke wirbt für Regierung mit AfD-Unterstützung". mdr.de. 6 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Germany AfD: Thuringia PM quits amid fury over far right". BBC. 8 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Troubled Thuringia gets fresh election dates". Deutsche Welle. 21 February 2020.

External linksEdit