Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has avoided the collapse of her coalition government. Her Socialist allies were scandalized by the election of Thomas Kemmerich as the regional Prime Minister in Thuringia in former East Germany with the help of votes of the Alternatif fur Deutschland (AfD) party.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is split between those prepared to deal with the anti-immigrant, Euro-sceptic AfD and those who are not. The AfD has become a force to be reckoned with in German politics ever since Merkel allowed one million illegal immigrants to enter the country in 2015 with the now notorious phrase “Wir schaffen das” (We can do it).
The German Chancellor has demanded and achieved the resignation of the newly elected Thuringian Prime Minister, within 24 hours, as well as other officials in the CDU that encouraged the deal.
Speedy action was needed as Merkel’s SPD coalition partners had announced that unless changes were made, they would leave the government thus precipitating either a general election or a minority government.
The political crisis in Thuringia illustrates the growing temptation for the right wing of the CDU to seek to cooperate with the AfD, now the leading party of opposition in the German national parliament. The CDU is hemorrhaging votes to the AFD over the immigration issue.
Merkel has saved the situation for her government for the time being but her position is very fragile as she has already had to agree to stand down as leader of her party. At the moment she is scheduled to leave office in 2021 but the way things are going it could be sooner. Her own party is increasingly anxious, under their not very inspiring new leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, as it continues to lose electoral ground to the AfD.