eIt was a long run for a remarkable dinner: On Sunday, former Federal President Joachim Gauck invited Thuringia’s executive prime minister Bodo Ramelow (left) and the CDU state chairman, Mike Mohring. Ramelow said that it was about an “open exchange of ideas on democracy issues”. He wanted to talk to Mohring “about project-oriented government work intensively”. Mohring is open to this: “If the Prime Minister invites you to talk to hear our suggestions about which projects will advance Thuringia, we will accept this invitation,” he said on Monday.
Already after the state election in Thuringia in October, in which the red-red-green government had lost its majority and no other common alliance was in question, Gauck, who had warned as federal president before the left would take over government in Thuringia, had repeatedly for one Approach to the SED successor party pleaded. “The Thuringian Prime Minister was not noticed as a radical,” he said in November of the F.A.Z. “If the parties of the democratic center now find compatible forms of cooperation or tolerance with him, I would find it more pragmatic.”
Jump over the ideological shadow
One reason for Gauck’s plea is that the CDU and Linke have a clear majority in the Erfurt state parliament, but have so far been very reluctant. In addition, both the federal and state CDU have ruled out cooperation with the left and have reaffirmed this in the past week. However, according to surveys, a majority of the population and even CDU voters do not approve of this demarcation. Representatives from Thuringian municipalities and business have long called on both parties to jump over their ideological shadows. Union and left are struggling with this, also because they have worked together for 30 years.
Both Ramelow, who is not the party leader, and Mohring were not averse to the idea of cooperation, although the proposal of a “project government” made by former Thuringian Prime Minister Dieter Althaus (CDU) last week was nothing more than one Would be a coalition that just wouldn’t be called that. This would have advantages for both politicians: Ramelow would not only go down in history as the head of government, who was the first to lead a red-red-green government, but could now also be the first left-wing prime minister, with the CDU as a junior partner governed. Mohring, who was struck after his election defeat, could offer himself and the CDU a power option instead of waiting for an opposition between the AfD and the FDP.
No “Future Contract”
But this will not happen for the time being. Ramelow confirmed on Monday that he sees a minority government under his leadership as a base. A first meeting between the Left, the SPD and the Greens on the one hand and the CDU and FDP on the other hand did not change this on Monday in Erfurt. Red-red-green are missing four votes for a majority in the state parliament, which they can achieve with either the FDP (five seats) or the CDU (21).
However, the Union and the FDP were unable to win the idea of the left to get a “future contract” between all five parties on the way. Mohring said afterwards that they would not shut themselves off important projects for the country, but would otherwise not work with Red-Red-Green and Ramelow would not be elected either. In addition, the CDU and FDP refused further meetings with the Left, SPD and Greens. The place for negotiating compromises is the parliament. Initiatives by the CDU and FDP with the help of the AfD could then be decided there, which a red-red-green government would have to implement.
FDP leader Thomas Kemmerich did not rule out such a development. This could not be prevented in parliamentary proceedings. However, the Liberals would “not make requests that send a signal to the left or right”.
The SPD and Greens were disappointed on Monday. Instead of assuming responsibility for the country, the Union and the FDP acted “extremely non-binding” and “did not come up with their own proposals,” criticized Thuringia’s Environment Minister Anja Siegesmund (Greens). Left, SPD and Greens now want to form a minority government as decided on Friday. At the beginning of February, Ramelow wants to stand for re-election in the state parliament in Erfurt. In the third ballot, in which only the yes votes count, he would then be elected.
Red-red-green could at best count on project-related support from the CDU and FDP. The nail test is coming in autumn, however, when Thuringia’s state parliament has to draw up a budget for 2021. However, it can be expected that the parties will then find a solution, since new elections as an alternative would probably only help the AfD, the second strongest force in Thuringia, and with which all other parties rule out any cooperation.