18:09 GMT19 February 2020
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    Amid a government crisis in the state of Thuringia, Angela Merkel criticised elected Minister-President Thomas Kemmerich from the centrist FDP for getting support from the right-wing AfD. Kemmerich’s resignation has opened the way for new elections and resulted in the Christian Democratic Union losing popularity in the region.

    The party Alternative for Germany, known for its hardline stance on migration policy, has touted legal action against German Chancellor Angela Merkel for lambasting Thuringia’s Minister-President Thomas Kemmerich because AfD helped to get him elected, the country’s news agency DPA reports.

    "I will file a complaint against Merkel for coercion of the premier”, head of the AfD's parliamentary group in Thuringia Bjoern Hoecke tweeted.

    The regional lawmaker also accused the chancellor of forcing Kemmerich to resign. The newly-elected regional prime-minister, representing neither the CDU nor AfD but the Free Democratic Party (FDP), announced he was stepping down on 8 February – three days after he was voted to become the head of the state government and two days after Merkel lashed out at him. She made this comment during a trip to South Africa on 6 February, calling the support from the AfD that helped him to get elected, "unforgivable”.

    "The result must be reversed”, she said during a presser, calling the election "a bad day for democracy”.

    Abuse of Power?

    The AfD’s spokesman also revealed that the party plans to file a "legal warning with a declaration to cease and desist”.

    "Since Mrs Merkel no longer holds a relevant function in the CDU and was in the African country not recognizably as a CDU member but as the German head of government, there is here a clear case of abuse of office with damage to the parties' right to equal opportunity”, one of AfD’s leaders Joerg Meuthen said, as cited by DPA.

    The political crisis in Thuringia broke out as Kemmerich was elected state premier by members of Merkel's CDU, the right-wing AfD, and his own pro-business Free Democrats, according to a reported agreement. This has already resulted in turmoil within the party the chancellor had led up until 2018. Her successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, viewed as a possible future chancellor, announced on Monday that she will not run for the top job and leave the party leadership.

    Left Gaining Ground Amid Turmoil

    While the CDU’s sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats have called on the state to hold new elections, reiterating their decision to refuse to cooperate with AFD at "all levels" across the country, it is unclear if and when there will be a new vote.

    In the meantime, the scandal has resulted in a tumble for Angela Merkel’s party in Thuringia, as a poll by infratest dimap on behalf of MDR showed. If the elections were held today, the CDU would receive only 13% while, earlier, its October result was 21.7%. At the same time, the left-wing Die Linke gained 8 points up to 39%. The right-wing AfD also enjoyed a surge. They rose from 23.4% to 24%.


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    Free Democratic Party (FDP), Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Angela Merkel, Germany
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