Erfurt (dpa) – «What is the AfD doing? What causes the greatest possible damage »- is almost a concept in the Thuringian state parliament.
This Friday it’s that time again: the regular duel between AfD right winger Björn Höcke (49) against Left Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (65) enters the next round. Unlike in the prime ministerial elections in March 2020, Höcke does not run directly against his favorite opponent. He uses a passage in the constitution – the constructive vote of no confidence.
With this “we want to create the formal conditions for ending the failed minority coalition of Bodo Ramelow”, the AfD parliamentary group formulates the goal of their action. “Parliamentarism lives on the fact that the opposition wants to rule,” says Höcke. Ramelow and his red-red-green government would have fallen if Höcke had been elected prime minister by at least 46 votes.
Why the spectacle if there is little chance of success?
Höcke’s chances? They go to zero – because except for the AfD, no other parliamentary group wants to agree. So why was the spectacle canceled exactly one week after the state elections in Thuringia scheduled for September?
“The AfD uses the state parliament. It is about breaking taboos, about the greatest possible uncertainty and about ridiculing Thuringia and parliamentary democracy. I see no other role for the AfD,” said Greens leader Astrid Rothe-Beinlich.
Since the 2019 state elections, the AfD is the second largest parliamentary group with 22 of the 90 members. Time and again, the party observed by the Thuringian Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution because of right-wing extremist tendencies influences far more than its real strength would allow. Höcke, who heads as party leader, is considered a co-founder of the AfD’s “wing” which has since been formally dissolved and classified as a right-wing extremist by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. is therefore not acceptable to any other group in parliament when it comes to finding a majority.
Political scientists such as André Brodocz from Erfurt and Torsten Oppelland from Jena see the state parliament in a dilemma given the difficult circumstances: Ramelow’s coalition of the left, SPD and Greens, which is four votes short, and the two opposition groups CDU and FDP has a very large AfD group – which indirectly has a lot of influence. “The only ones that could currently form a majority are parties – the left and CDU or even AfD – that are not compatible,” Oppelland describes the situation. The AfD also has power, “because the other groups make their actions dependent on it,” Brodocz said.
In July, the Höcke parliamentary group put constant pressure on the state parliament in Erfurt. The first act was about chairing committees of inquiry. The AfD wanted someone to make trustee decisions in the 1990s, while the CDU wanted someone to investigate current cases of politically motivated violence.
The AfD withdrew its application — and suddenly, as the second-largest group, it was given the right to chair a committee believed to deal with extremist tendencies. CDU faction leader Mario Voigt accused the AfD of cheating and responded with a tactical maneuver: the CDU requested a trustee committee, which it actually did not want. The state parliament had to deal with the consequences on Thursday.
The second act: When the state parliament was dissolved a week ago, the fear that AfD votes could ultimately make a difference also played a decisive role. Parliament could not be dissolved with a party “that hates parliamentary democracy”, the party leader of the left, Steffen Dittes, justified the withdrawal.
The third act will follow next Friday and is already provoking controversial reactions: the CDU faction has decided to remain passive in the vote of no confidence against Ramelow and to refuse to vote.
FDP faction does not want to vote “Höcke”
“With his candidacy, Björn Höcke is trying to make this Parliament despicable again. That is why we will not interfere in the transparent games of the AfD,” said their party chairman Voigt. “The democratic signal will be weaker,” fears SPD leader Georg Maier. Some at Red-Red-Green believe Voigt does not want to risk that if there are more than 22 votes for Höcke in the secret ballot, the votes could be found at the CDU. Unlike the CDU, the FDP wants to participate in the vote. “We will certainly not vote for Mr Höcke,” FDP faction leader Thomas Kemmerich announced.
And what does the person actually involved in the motion of censure under Article 73 of the Constitution say? Ramelow is a statesman: “It is up to the opposition – and in this case the AfD – to file an application under Article 73.” He assumes that parliament will handle it sovereignly, Ramelow said.