10:29 GMT +315 November 2019
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    Germany's Alternative for Germany AfD party burn a private fireworks during an election campaign tour by ship on the river Rhine near Krefeld, western Germany, September 4, 2017.

    Times They are a Changin': CDU Representatives Demand Party Chiefs Consider AfD Coalition Talks

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    The news comes as CDU has faced an inglorious showing in Thuringia's state elections, in which the the party fell from pole position to third place behind AfD and Die Linke.

    In the East German state of Thuringia, representatives of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have controversially broken ranks with the party’s official line on power-sharing with Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), with 17 party representatives signing a letter demanding higher-ups sanction coalition talks “all democratically elected parties”.

    While the parliamentarians’ letter doesn’t mention AfD directly, the implication is clear, and breaches a firm official line adopted at the CDU’s 2018 conference.

    Since then, Markus Soder, head of the CDU's Bavarian sister party CSU, has said even "chatting over coffee" with AfD representatives is verboten, while Merkel's successor as party leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has threatened to exclude members of the party for even entertaining the idea of cooperating with the upstart party.

    ​However, with coalition discussions struggling in Thuringia, AfD – which saw its vote share leap to 22.5 percent in the recent vote – may represent the only feasible way by which CDU can maintain its place in government in the state. Moreover, the open letter lambasts the notion of “almost a quarter of the voters…[staying] out of [coalition] talks" – although the prospect of the party’s state leader Bjorn Hocke holding high office was ruled out entirely.

    "Coalitions with both [Die Linke and AfD] are impossible. However, everything in between must be discussed among democrats in order to fathom whether and how a stable government can be formed in Thuringia," the group wrote.

    In response, CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak described the demands for talks with the AfD as "mad”.

    "The opinion of the CDU has not changed. Period. End of the announcement," he said.

    ​Nonetheless, despite the CDU’s apparently inflexible stance on cooperation with AfD, the party’s rising popularity has neither gone unnoticed nor unrewarded in many parts of Germany. For instance, on the local council of Frankenstein in the West German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, CDU representative Monika Schirdewahn and her AfD husband Horst formed a faction of under the name "Progress Frankenstein”, while in Gorlitz, near the Polish border, AfD politician Norman Knauthe now leads the town’s Environment and Ordinance Committee.

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    Christian Democratic Union (CDU), CDU, Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD), Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), Alternative for Germany (AfD)
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