Candidate becomes German governor with far-right backing

Candidate becomes German governor with far-right backing
Thomas Kemmerich of the Free Democrats, walks out of a voting booth in Erfurt, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Kemmerich, a pro-business politician, has been elected as the governor of the eastern German state of Thuringia in a surprise result after a far-right party threw its votes behind him. (Martin Schutt/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A pro-business politician was elected governor of the eastern German state of Thuringia in a surprise result after a far-right party threw its votes behind him Wednesday.

Thomas Kemmerich of the Free Democrats, a party that only just made it into the state legislature in October, threw his hat in the ring after left-wing incumbent Bodo Ramelow failed to secure a majority during two rounds of voting by lawmakers.

State legislators elected Kemmerich on a 45-44 vote, with one abstention. A gubernatorial candidate fielded by the far-right Alternative for Germany, the second-strongest party in Thuringia, won no votes after having secured his party’s 22 votes in previous rounds.

Ramelow had hoped to continue as governor leading the same three-party, left-leaning coalition he headed for the past five years.

But the partner parties in that coalition lost its majority in the election. That created a stalemate as no one wanted to form a coalition with Alternative for Germany, or AfD, and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats also wouldn’t work with Ramelow’s Left Party.

It wasn’t immediately clear with what parties Kemmerich plans to run the state or how stable his government would be.