Before the thuringia election: hocke stirs up debate

AfD right-winger Bjorn Hocke wants to run his own candidate in Thuringia. That could make it easier for Bodo Ramelow to win re-election.

Look me in the eye, Mike: Bodo Ramelow (r.) on the evening of the 2019 Thuringian state election Photo: dpa

The state leader of the Thuringian AfD, Bjorn Hocke, has brought new movement into the debate about the election of the prime minister in Erfurt. On Wednesday, the AfD right-winger announced that his faction would put forward its own candidate. "We need a counter-candidate to Bodo Ramelow," Hocke said. He added that they were looking for a candidate who could rally a "middle-class majority" behind him. Time and again, the AfD, which is currently being investigated by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Thuringia, has tried to portray itself as middle-class and thus dock with the CDU and FDP. So far without success.

The candidate, Hocke added, does not have to be a person from the ranks of the AfD. "Simply to make it clear that we are keeping our eye on our central election promise, there will be a counter-candidate." Hocke did not initially name a specific candidate. When asked, however, he did not want to rule out the possibility that former President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution Hans-Georg Maaben (CDU) would be suitable.

The latter, in turn, had called on his party at the end of last year to put forward its own candidate for the office of prime minister – and also did not rule out the possibility that he could be elected with votes from the AfD. He should then form a minority government with the FDP. As for himself, Maaben said he did not want to impose himself, but would not close his mind to the question. However, it is unlikely that the former head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution will be the AfD’s candidate, despite all the radicalization in recent months.

Two candidates in the race

An opposing candidate could ultimately make it easier for Ramelow, the incumbent prime minister of the Left Party, to win re-election. He wants to form a minority government together with the SPD and the Greens; the three parties have just distributed the ministries. However, Red-Red-Green does not have a majority of its own; it is four votes short of that. Recently, therefore, there has been discussion about the interpretation of the state constitution. It states that in the third round of voting, "whoever receives the most votes" is elected.

A legal opinion from 2014 states that only the "yes" votes are relevant. If Ramelow stood alone, he would therefore also be elected if he received more no votes than yes votes. CDU leader Mike Mohring had recently expressed doubts about this and called for the election of the state premier, scheduled for early February, to be postponed.

"If in the end there are two candidates for the office of prime minister, Mike Mohring’s doubts are irrelevant," the state leader of the Left Party, Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, told the taz on Wednesday. CDU and FDP would have to decide now, perhaps the announcement of the AfD would help one or the other MPs. "CDU and FDP could also have named a candidate," Hennig-Wellsow continued. "Then it would not have needed the AfD." (with dpa)

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