On February 5th, the Thuringia parliament (Landtag) in Germany voted for a new state Prime Minister. The leftist establishment was already dreaming of another stint for far-left reigning PM Bodo Ramelow of Die Linke (The Left) when the nationalist AfD (Alternatives for Germany) party got in their way. As a result, the entire political and media establishment was up in arms. “A black day for democracy” – no matter that the normal process was followed. Democracy is sacred as long as the establishment gets its way; when the establishment loses, democracy is declared either dead or dying. An overview:
Politically, Germany has never recovered from World War II. Nationalism is vilified, being right-wing is routinely conflated with extremism (but far worse so than in the rest of the West). There is an open agreement among all political parties to not cooperate with the nationalist AfD. Against this background, the parliament in the state of Thuringia, held its vote. In a third round vote, Linke, the democratic-socialist SPD and Grüne (the Greens) voted for Ramelow, while Christian-democrats CDU (of national Prime Minister Angela Merkel) and FDP voted for FDP-candidate Thomas Kemmerich. While AfD had fielded a candidate of its own, the AfD-fraction switched to Kemmerich, granting him a single vote majority and thus overtaking Ramelow.
To the public dismay of mainstream politicians and journalists, Kemmerich accepted his election and was sworn in. Ousted PM Ramelow wasted no time dismissing the outcome of a procedurally sound democratic vote as a ‘charade’ and invoking memories of the nazi party.
Rejection of democracy
What followed was the all-too familiar sight of leftists taking their anger at democracy to the streets, countless blue checkmarks on Twitter venting about ‘nazis’ electing a Prime Minister, and many more while avoiding explicit nazi-comparisons still outraged that someone would be elected into office with AfD votes.
The joint Christian-Democrats of CDU and CSU refused to accept the outcome, because their local representatives were not supposed to have voted for the same candidate the AfD voted for (even though ostensibly nobody knew with certainty beforehand that this would be the AfD-tactic). Like many in the political arena in Germany, the national CDU-CSU demanded that Kemmerich step down and for the people of Thuringia to have another vote (but only for pre-approved candidates of course, or they would probably demand new elections again).
The German mainstream feels so comfortable in its rejection of democracy on behalf of supposed democracy that they openly reject the outcome of an election because it doesn’t fit their preferences. The Greens called for the situation to be ‘cleansed’ and to have a new election.
EU maniac Guy Verhofstadt is convinced Hitler has returned, because Hitler also shook someone’s hand once:
Susanne Hennig-Wellsow (Linke) threw a bouquet of flowers at Kemmerich’s feet after he was sworn in, instead of handing it to him. As usual, all political etiquette goes down the drain as soon as the left doesn’t get its way.
SPD leadership in Nordrhein-Westfalen declared that ‘laws may never come to be with votes from AfD’.
And too many to mention offered similar sentiments.
Kemmerich did not withstand the mounting pressure. In a ‘guilt by association’ campaign stretched to the extremes, Kemmerich was made out to be a fascist himself, his children required a security detail to go to school and his wife was spat at in the street. Within 24 hours, Kemmerich resigned from his post. He is donating his salary to a charity for victims of Stalinism.
Spirit of democracy
I should note that the FDP only received 5% of the popular vote in the election. Linke was the winner in the election with 31% of the vote. However, Linke did not have a majority to form a left-wing coalition (8.2% for SPD and 5.2% for Grüne made a total of 44.4%) while AfD (23.4%), CDU (21.7%) and FDP (5%) together represented 50.1% of the vote. It may not be in the spirit of democracy for a small party representing only 5% of the electorate to take the highest local office – but this was not the prevailing argument used against him (I have not seen it at all, in fact). The entirety of the establishment turned against a mainstream politician because he received votes from another political party that they all dislike (including Kemmerich himself, as a matter of fact). The predetermined rules were followed, and AfD is well within its rights to vote strategically against a red-green coalition rather than on principle for its own candidate.
It should not come as a surprise that the establishment is not occupied with the ‘spirit’ of democracy. In June 2018 I wrote about local elections in The Netherlands, which were overwhelming won by populist Leefbaar Rotterdam (Liveable Rotterdam). All six establishment parties refused to cooperate with them (reason: ‘right-wing’) and they all joined forces to form an unprecedented six-party coalition instead. The establishment outright excludes anyone from the democratic process when they are not part of the in-crowd and get too close to power.
A brilliant play
It was a brilliant play from AfD. The panic and uproar in all of Germany was palpable, akin to the Democrats in the US after the election of President Trump. It has caused a schism in the CDU-CSU between local and national leaderships, and for everybody to see, politicians across the spectrum and of all levels have denounced and rejected democracy for no better reason than they do not like the people who voted for the winner of the election.
Democracy is for the establishment only – not for the people. The left is starting to more openly make this its motto, going by opinion pieces like the one in Washington Post today, which was originally titled “It’s time to give the elites a bigger say in choosing the president”.
Former AfD-leader Alexander Gauland floated the idea of having the AfD vote for Ramelow in the inevitable new vote, as ‘after the response this time, he could impossibly accept the election then’. Void of self-reflection, Ramelow called Gauland an ‘enemy of democracy’ over this statement.
Thuringia has shown us all how much democracy is worth to the establishment when a vote does not go their way. We have seen the same in the US, with a growing push to abolish the electoral college because it stands in the way of a handful of urbanized left-wing areas to dictate policy to the entire country. We have seen it in the EU, with the repeated dismissal of referendum votes because their outcomes did not suit the political class. We have seen it all over the West when the nationalist right begins to pose a serious threat to the establishment’s power.
The German left, in its post-WWII spasm, has elevated guilt-by-association to an art form. As pointed out by Tom Vandendriessche, Member of European Parliament for Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest):
As soon as the left declares someone a ‘nazi’, whether it is justifiable or not, no holds are barred to fight this ‘nazi’. (…) Anyone not cooperating with this modern-day inquisition becomes suspect themselves, because they are an accessory to the return of the ‘nazis’. They too will be targeted with intimidation, violence and persecution. In these circumstances, who will still be willing to voice their opinion if their opinion might be disapproved of by the left? Civil liberties become hollow, the rule of law defenseless and the political middle blind to real and actual extremism.