Operation Chaos moves to... Germany?

Yesterday we looked at the possibility of a new Operation Chaos brewing in South Carolina, where Republicans plan to ask their voters to show up for the state’s open primary and vote for Bernie Sanders. But there may have been a similar operation already underway in the western German state of Thuringia… at least briefly. The democratic socialists of the far-left Die Linke party had been in control of the government but in a surprise move yesterday, Thomas Kemmerich of the center-left Free Democratic party was elected Premier (or Minister President). And that only happened because the right-wing AfD (Alternative for Germany) party supported him. Chancellor Angela Merkel was, to put it mildly, not pleased. (BBC)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the election of a liberal leader in eastern Germany with help from the far-right AfD party is “unforgivable” and must be reversed.

Thomas Kemmerich of the liberal FDP became premier of Thuringia after the AfD, in a surprise move, voted for him. The situation is being described as a political earthquake, as the mainstream parties have always refused to do deals with Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The AfD has broad support in Thuringia.

This move appeared to take nearly everyone by surprise. It didn’t last long, however. By this morning, amid a flurry of outrage from around Germany, Kemmerich announced that he would be stepping aside to clear the way for new elections. He described his resignation as “unavoidable.”

A German state premier elected on Wednesday with the help of the far-right AfD has said he will stand down to pave the way for fresh elections. “Resignation is unavoidable,” he said…

Mr Kemmerich told reporters on Thursday that his liberal FDP party had decided to request the dissolution of the state parliament in Erfurt.

Wednesday’s vote has been described as a political earthquake for Germany.

This may have been a temporary situation, but it could still pave the way for future growth by AfD. Germany’s traditional, liberal parties have all been dismayed at the rapid rise of AfD over the past several years. While the right-wing organization hasn’t gained enough ground to assemble a majority, their platform of calling for restrictions on mass immigration has been popular and they’ve attracted considerable support.

The major parties had, up until now, seemed to all agree that nobody would align with AfD to give them more power. But now that the Free Democratic Party has aligned with them, all bets are off. Having gotten their foot in the door in Thuringia, can they replicate that success in other parts of the country?

Keep in mind that Angela Merkel is on the way out. She’s already confirmed that she won’t seek reelection next year. Her disastrous, open-door immigration policies led to the collapse of her popular support and the weakening of her party. The door appears to be open for a gradual shift to more conservative policies in Germany, and yesterday’s events in Thuringia may turn out to be a sign of things to come.