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'It's unforgivable': Why Merkel and Germany are up in arms after shock far-right AfD vote

The new premier of Thuringia has stepped down after he was elected with the help of far-right AfD lawmakers in a vote Angela Merkel called "unforgivable". Here's why this is Germany's latest political crisis.

On Wednesday all political hell broke loose in Germany after Thomas Kemmerich, from the economically liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), won a vote to become premier in the central eastern state of Thuringia despite his party having just five seats in the local parliament.

He stepped down on Thursday after an outcry across Germany. Here's how the drama played out.

What's happened?

What became apparent was that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) had backed Kemmerich in the vote, effectively pushing incumbent Bodo Ramelow of the Left party (die Linke) out of office.

Kemmerich scored 45 votes, beating Ramelow, who has been state premier in Thuringia since 2014, by one vote.

People from across the political spectrum have accused both the FDP and the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) of tacit cooperation with the AfD, and there are now calls for new elections.

Chancellor Merkel on Thursday said it was "unforgivable" that a politician in Thuringia allowed himself to be elected state premier with help from MPs from the far-right AfD, calling for the vote to take place again.

What happened in Thuringia "is unforgivable and that's why the result must be reversed," Merkel said at a press conference in South Africa.

She added that it was "a bad day for democracy".

The Frankfurter Rundschau ran with a picture of Thomas Kemmerich shaking hands with the AfD's Björn Höcke with the headline: "The fascist and his tool".

[Source: The Local, Berlin, 06Feb20]

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