The Thuringian desire. How the LEFT made room for the RIGHT

By Uli Gellermann.

The well-known German parliamentary world has collapsed: “That there are no more majorities in the middle”, called the Thuringian CDU top candidate Mike Mohring on election night desperately and found a lot of approval. The “taz”, the paper with the progressive coating: “Ramelow is the middle”, provided a nice resonance. What was meant was the Thuringian Prime Minister of the LEFT, the unfortunate election winner without the prospect of a government, because his partners from the SPD and the Greens had not received enough votes.

For decades, the most central of all centres was the grand coalition of the Federal Republic, the core of which was reliably formed by the CDU and SPD, but which also liked to decorate itself with the FDP or the Greens. Rather less often, but again and again, the Left Party was also allowed to get a taste of government air at the state level. New at the parliamentary feed troughs, filled with salaries and official cars, was the AfD. Although they fulfilled a basic condition for an official career in Germany with unbreakable loyalty to NATO, its appearance reminds too much of the march of brown columns: It still sells badly, especially since the German export world champion also enjoys dealing with those countries that not so long ago got to know German troops better.

Sometimes, after the second, third beer, the SED hosts also sang the “Rennsteig song”, the secret anthem of the Thuringians. It might alienate the guest from the West when the comrades sang of a “wide world” in which they then grasped a “desire” for the “Thuringian Forest” and its “little birds”. The intimate singing showed that below the propagated internationalism there was still that feeling of home that gave the base to the national feeling. That feeling that you hold on to when everything becomes ever stranger and more anonymous: The cold call centers to ward off customers, the anglicisms as a cheap substitute for language, the shisha bar instead of the corner pub. The alienating feeling of a change in one’s home country can be handled sensibly if one feels socially secure. But which job, which pension, which rental contract is still valid for a long time? And then there is the strange national unity in which some Germans earn 17 percent less than others: East German wages.

The AfD recently came to 23.4 percent in Thuringia, doubling its previous election result and thus continuing the trend of the state elections in Brandenburg and Saxony: Those who want to effect the stagnation of grand coalition at the moment choose to vote for the AfD. The frightened headlines confirm those voters who fell for the AfD in their futile search for a genuine opposition. For years, the LEFT, initially still trading as the PDS, was the genuine East Party, just as it had become the almost only authentic opposition party after the Greens had exchanged their consistent pacifism for a NATO ticket. The “Erfurt Declaration” of 1997, which was also signed by the then trade union chairman Bodo Ramelow and meant to be very honest, heralded those RED-RED and GREEN coalitions that were supposed to pave the way for the LEFT to a parliamentary power that functioned only as a one-way street for company cars. In this way, the LEFT Party lost its Eastern bonus and even more its opposition reputation. Bodo Ramelow and his supporters will believe themselves in the luck of an election success. How they feel as a new center, one may not imagine.

When a lot of dissatisfied people gathered in Dresden on 20 October 2014 under the abbreviation PEGIDA, an extra-parliamentary movement of RIGHT began to occupy some topics and places that seemed to be reserved for the LEFT for a long time. With this movement, the originally bourgeois-conservative CDU spin-off AfD could be extremely strengthened. In the 2013 Bundestag elections it received just 4.7 percent of the votes. But gradually and with the PEGIDA actions, the AfD was able to win 15.1 percent of the votes in the state elections in March 2016 in Baden-Württemberg, 12.6 percent in Rhineland-Palatinate in 2016 and a whopping 24.3 percent in the state elections in Saxony-Anhalt. To the extent that the mandate hopes of the LEFT Party grew on the parliamentary corridors, the RIGHT Party marched past it on streets and squares.

That fear of the foreign must be taken seriously, that the homeland was not an invention of the Nazis – even if they misused the term – that as hosts one has to agree on the number of guests: These topics were declared taboo in the LEFT and roared down with a “Nazis out” that was as nimble as it was simplistic. As if by the way, the majority group at the head of the LEFT also sacrificed one of its few popular media figures on the altar of a fictitious anti-fascism by pushing Sarah Wageknecht out.

The Rennsteig leads through the Thuringian Forest and is considered one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Germany. Whoever leaves this path to the RIGHTS will soon have to emigrate if everything goes as wrong as before.

Picture source: DesignRage/shutterstock


This article was published on 04. November 2019 on the Blog Rationalgalerie.


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