Irem UZUN -TDO- Following the protests and the criticism from the national party leaders, the Free Democratic Party's Thomas Kemmerich resigned on Thursday as state premier of the eastern German state of Thuringia, a relatively small state with a population of 2.1 million, a day after he was elected with the support of the far-right AfD party, causing a political earthquake in Germany. His liberal party will call for new elections in the state. Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose own CDU party had supported Kemmerich, called the election "unforgivable" and had said it must be reversed.
The AfD has grown in popularity in recent years but has been condemned for its extreme views on immigration, freedom of speech and the press. Wednesday's vote was described as a political earthquake as it was the first time the AfD helped form a government in Germany, breaking a consensus among the main parties to never work with extremist parties. Despite the AfD having broad support in Thuringia, the state election in October was won by the far- left Die Linke. And the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) had just 5% of the vote, barely scraping into the local parliament in the state capital, Erfurt. But on Wednesday, in the secret vote to pick the leader of the government, Mr. Kemmerich of the FDP beat Die Linke's leader Bodo Ramelow by 45 votes to 44 - thanks to votes from the AfD.
Speaking during a state visit to South Africa, Merkel described the circumstances of Kemmerich's election as "a singular process that broke with a fundamental conviction of mine and my party's, namely that you don't win majorities with the help of Alternative für Deutschland." What will happen next in Thuringia still remains far from clear?