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Merkel calls her party’s alliance with far-right ‘unforgivable’

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference in Pretoria, South Africa on 6 February. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/DPA via Getty

German chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that the cooperation between her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) to elect a state premier was “unforgivable.”

Speaking during her visit to South Africa on Thursday, Merkel said the “unforgivable process” which saw the Alternative for Germany become kingmakers in the eastern German state of Thuringia after teaming up with the CDU "broke with core beliefs — for the CDU and for me."

Merkel said the deal between the AfD and the CDU was a “bad day for democracy” and the result of Wednesday’s state-premier vote must be reversed.

Germany’s political establishment was shaken on Wednesday after the Christian Democrats teamed up with the AfD to support the election of a new leader in the state of Thuringia.

Thomas Kemmerich of the Free Democratic party beat the incumbent state premier by one vote. Politicians slammed the CDU’s decision to ally itself with the AfD as a shameful act that legitimises a radical right-wing party, and a dark day for German democracy.

Merkel’s CDU and Germany’s other political parties have said repeatedly they would not work with the AfD.

Wednesday’s shock vote has not only drawn condemnation for the CDU, but has put the spotlight on the future of country’s federal government, after its Social Democrat coalition partner said they would insist on an investigation into how the Thuringia alliance could have been allowed.

READ MORE: Uproar in Germany as Merkel’s party allies with far-right in state vote

The new state premier Kemmerich has said he would not form a state coalition government with the AfD in Thuringia.

The radical anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim AfD entered the German parliament as the country’s third largest party after the last election in 2017 and is present in all state parliaments. It attracted support particularly in the states of the former East Germany in the wake of the migrant crisis with its nationalist message of “Germany for Germans.” The party has been polling at between 11% and 15% in the past year.

The leader of the AfD in the state of Thuringia, Björn Höcke, is one of the party’s most extremist leaders. He has often been compared with Adolf Hitler, and has repeatedly called for an end to Germany’s commitment to atoning for the atrocities of the Nazi era.