Germany may reverse democratic election in Thuringia after AfD politician scores landmark victory

Robert Sesselmann celebrates his victory in Sonnenberg along with AfD party leaders.
By Dénes Albert
5 Min Read

In a move that would have serious implications for the future of democracy in Germany, the municipal election victory of an Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician in Sonneberg is being reviewed to see whether the newly elected administrator is “suitable for democracy.”

The AfD’s victory in Sonneberg marks the first time the party has won a district administration position, with 52.8 percent of voters choosing Robert Sesselmann to lead the district despite every mainstream party in Germany backing his Christian Democrat Union (CDU) challenger, Jürgen Köpper. The German media and political establishment have reacted with outrage over the result.

Despite the election outcome, Sesselman may never be able to actually serve in office, as the election result may be retroactively reversed, according to a report from Welt. The latest “check” is coming at a time when every candidate is checked for eligibility to run for office before every election, which Sesselmann already passed. Now that Sesselmann won, however, the government of Thuringia is conducting yet another check on the candidate, with many experts fearing that this check will reverse the democratic outcome.

However, Sesselman has his defenders, including those outside the AfD. For example, the Sonneberg district association of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Thuringia has rejected the announced suitability test for Sesselmann (AfD). In a post announced on the CDU’s Facebook page, the party wrote: “To assert doubts now after the fact because of this would harm democracy and increase the already high frustration in the population.” The district association stated it has “no understanding” of this process.

The CDU further stated that the democratic will of the voters must be respected “even if we would have liked a different result.”

On Twitter, MEP Maximillian Krah wrote about the statement: “Decency in the CDU Sonneberg with appropriate reference to the legal situation. Questioning the district administrator election is clearly illegal and endangers trust in democracy. Let’s see if the ⁦Merz-led CDU forbids the local association to speak.” The message was flagged as “sensitive content” by Twitter.

The Thuringian Ministry of the Interior says it will examine Sesselmann’s views on constitutional loyalty because the state’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) classifies the AfD in Thuringia as “assuredly right-wing extremist.” The administrative office could thus retroactively declare the election invalid. The head of the state branch of the powerful BfV recently said that one out of five Germans are “brown dregs,” referring to 20 percent of German voters now saying they would vote for the AfD.

For the Sonneberg CDU district association, the election result is “a lesson” for the policies of the traffic light coalition in Berlin and red-red-green in Erfurt.

“Poor government craftsmanship and policies over people’s heads — as with Habeck’s heating law — have massively increased people’s frustration,” the CDU branch stated, adding there is a loss of trust in parties and democracy, as well as a lack of political orientation and leadership.

According to the Christian Democrats, Thuringians are not Nazis, but “decent people who are committed and hardworking” and feel “that something is going wrong in our republic.”

AfD parliamentary leader, Alice Weidel, warned about the “suitability check” being carried out in Germany.

“The spectacle presented by the media and established parties is not worthy of a democratic state. After the fact, AfD district administrator Sesselmann is to be denied eligibility to carry out his office, a suitability test has been ordered,” she wrote.

As Remix News reported recently, Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) candidate Robert Sesselmann won the second round of elections in Sonneberg, Thuringia, on Sunday, becoming the first politician from the party to hold a district leadership post.

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