East German communists return to power 25 years after fall of Berlin Wall
Germany’s far-Left party has returned to power in a state government for the first time since the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago, stoking heated debate about its communist roots.
The Left Party, widely seen as the successor to the Socialist Unity Party (SED) that once ruled East Germany, will head the government of Thuringia after the state parliament narrowly voted to approve a new coalition.
The new state prime minister, Bodo Ramelow, used his first speech in parliament to apologise to victims of the former communist regime, and said he wanted to “reconcile rather than divide”.
Thousands of people braved sub-zero temperatures on the streets of the state capital, Erfurt, on Thursday night to protest against the expected result of the vote.
Angela Merkel predicted the decision would be “bad news” for Thuringia, while the German President, Joachim Gauck, broke with the traditional neutrality of his role to speak out against it.
But the state parliament voted to approve Mr Ramelow’s three-way coalition after the Social Democrats, Mrs Merkel’s partner in the federal government, rejected an alliance with her Christian Democrats in the state.
The coalition, which is completed by the Green Party, will have a majority of just one seat in the state parliament.