Merkel's coalition parties take another beating in Thuringia state election
Clean Energy Wire / ARD
The parties of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government coalition, the conservative CDU and the Social Democrats (SPD), have lost heavily in the elections in eastern federal state Thuringia. The Left Party clearly won the largest share of the votes, while the right-wing AfD made significant gains to become the state's second biggest party. The Left Party, under top candidate Bodo Ramelow, who already governs in Thuriniga in a coalition with the SPD and the Green Party, achieved its best result in a state election so far with 31 percent of the votes, while the AfD scored 23.4 percent. Merkel's CDU lost more than 11 percentage points compared to the previous election in 2014, coming in third with 21.8 percent of the vote. Ramelow's coalition partners SPD and Greens fell to 8.2 percent and 5.2 percent respectively, thereby losing the majority necessary for continuing the left-leaning coalition government. The pro-business FDP narrowly passed the 5 percent threshold to enter the state parliament. Contradicting earlier rejections of a coalition with the Left Party, Thuringia's CDU leader Mike Mohring told public broadcaster ARD his party "has to assume responsibility" for a stable government, and assess whether a partnership with Ramelow is possible.
The result in Thuringia deals another blow to the Green Party's aspiration to become a leading political force across the entire country, with the environmentalist party faring worse in three recent elections in eastern German states than in national polls. The losses for the CDU and the SPD also cast a shadow over the future of Germany's federal coalition government, with critics especially from the SPD's left wing saying that a continued partnership with Merkel's conservative party strips the Social Democrats of their identity and urging the party leadership to end the coalition. The coalition parties plan to hold a half-time review of their government in early November.