BERLIN – AfD calls for a challenger in Thuringia

A week after the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and the Left (Die Linke) agreed on a governing contract (15 January), the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) announced that they wish to put up a candidate in Thuringia’s election for Minister-President in early February to challenge the sitting Minister-President, Bodo Ramelow (Die Linke).

In a speech in state capital Erfurt, AfD state party chair Björn Höcke declared “we need an opposing candidate to Bodo Ramelow.” He stated that this candidate did not need to come out of the ranks of the AfD and suggested former President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans Georg Maaßen, who was removed from the position in September 2018 following controversy over his statements regarding the anti-immigrant protests in Chemnitz that year.

Previously, Ramelow was able to run unopposed by the third round of candidacy, but this did not ensure an easy victory. With the AfD, Christian Democrats (CDU), and Free Democrats (FDP) refusing to support his candidacy, Ramelow would receive more opposition than support in the election, thereby generating a previously un-tested constitutional question. 

Thus, the AfD’s proposal could ultimately help Ramelow. The state constitution clearly states that in a head-to-head match-up, the person with the most votes wins.

In other news, data leaks from a car rental company has left three million people at risk. A joint study by computer magazine c’t and Die Zeit exposed a vulnerability in the data storage system of Buchbinder, a German auto rental company acquired by Europcar in 2019. For weeks, the personal information (including addresses and phone numbers) of three million customers was left unprotected. Prominent politicians, such as Green Party leader Robert Habeck, celebrities and employees of various embassies, have also been affected. (Sarah Lawton |

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