Bodo Ramelow
Ramelow in 2019
Minister President of Thuringia
Assumed office
4 March 2020
DeputyWolfgang Tiefensee
Preceded byThomas Kemmerich
In office
5 December 2014 – 5 February 2020
DeputyHeike Taubert
Preceded byChristine Lieberknecht
Succeeded byThomas Kemmerich
President of the Bundesrat
Assumed office
1 November 2021
First Vice PresidentReiner Haseloff
Preceded byReiner Haseloff
Leader of The Left in the Landtag of Thuringia
In office
3 November 2009 – 5 December 2014
Preceded byDieter Hausold
Succeeded bySusanne Hennig-Wellsow
Leader of the Party of Democratic Socialism in the Landtag of Thuringia
In office
14 November 2001 – 17 October 2005
Preceded byGabi Zimmer
Succeeded byDieter Hausold
Member of the Landtag of Thuringia
Assumed office
26 November 2019
Preceded byMarion Walsmann
ConstituencyErfurt III
In office
14 October 2014 – 31 March 2015
Preceded bymulti-member district
Succeeded byIris Martin-Gehl
ConstituencyThe Left list
In office
29 September 2009 – 14 October 2014
Preceded byMarion Walsmann
Succeeded byMarion Walsmann
ConstituencyErfurt III
In office
8 July 2004 – 17 October 2005
Preceded byJohanna Arenhövel
Succeeded byJörg Kubitzki
ConstituencyErfurt I
In office
1 October 1999 – 8 July 2004
Preceded bymulti-member district
Succeeded bymulti-member district
ConstituencyPDS list
Member of the Bundestag
for Thuringia
In office
18 October 2005 – 28 September 2009
Preceded bymulti-member district
Succeeded byFrank Tempel
ConstituencyPDS list
Personal details
Born (1956-02-16) 16 February 1956 (age 65)
Osterholz-Scharmbeck, West Germany (now Germany)
Political partyThe Left
Spouse(s)
Germana Alberti
(m. 2006)
Children2
ResidenceErfurt
Occupation
  • Politician
  • Retail business management assistant
  • Union secretary
WebsiteOfficial website

Bodo Ramelow (German pronunciation: [ˈboːdo ˈʁaməlo]; born 16 February 1956) is a German politician who has served since 4 March 2020 as Minister President of Thuringia, an office he previously held from 2014 to 5 February 2020. He is the first head of a German state government to serve non-consecutive terms in office since Eberhard Diepgen, who served twice as Governing Mayor of Berlin (1984–1989 and 1991–2001). A member of The Left, he previously chaired the party's group in the Landtag of Thuringia. On 8 October 2021, he was elected President of the Bundesrat. His one-year term started on 1 November 2021.

Political career

Ramelow was born and raised in West Germany. He is a trained retail salesman and became an official in Gewerkschaft Handel, Banken und Versicherungen (HBV), the union for trade, bank and insurance employees during the 1980s. He moved to Thuringia, in former East Germany, after the unification of Germany in 1990. There he joined the former GDR state-party Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). He was elected to the Landtag of Thuringia in 1999. He became deputy chairman and in 2001 chairman of the party's parliamentary group in the Landtag (state parliament).

In February 2004, Ramelow was elected top candidate of the PDS in the Thuringian state elections. In June 2004 the party gained its best result in Thuringia since German unification with 26.1% of the votes. Ramelow was re-elected as the PDS chairman in Thuringia.

Starting in June 2005, Ramelow was chief negotiator during unification talks between the PDS and WASG, a unification that resulted in the new party The Left. In September 2005 he was elected deputy chairman of The Left in the Bundestag. In the Thuringia state election in September 2009 he led The Left to become the second biggest party with 27.4% of the votes, making him a competitor for the post of minister president.

Illegal observation by the Verfassungsschutz

In 2003 it became publicly known that Germany's domestic intelligence service, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, had been observing Ramelow and had opened a file on him because of his alleged contacts with the German Communist Party (DKP) during the 1980s. Supposedly the observation had stopped following Ramelow's entry into the Landtag in 1999, but in May 2006 the Administrative court of Weimar decreed that the Thuringian State Verfassungsschutz had to reveal the file and the stored data. It became known that the federal Verfassungsschutz had observed Ramelow for many years. Ramelow sued the authorities, but in 2010 the Federal Administrative Court of Germany ruled that the Verfassungsschutz is entitled to observe politicians of the Left Party due to "reasonable suspicion of anti-constitutional activity".[1][2]

This ruling was overturned in 2013 by the Federal Constitutional Court, which decided that the monitoring had been illegal. It stated that monitoring lawmakers may be acceptable, but only in exceptional circumstances, "if there is an indication that a legislator has abused his or her mandate in the fight against the democratic constitutional order, or actively or aggressively fought against that order." The court found no grounds to suspect Ramelow, who is considered one of the more moderate voices within his party.[3] The decision was widely seen as a major victory for Ramelow's party as well.[4]

Minister President of Thuringia

See also: Cabinet Ramelow I

Following elections in September 2014, Ramelow was elected by the Landtag as Minister President of Thuringia on 5 December 2014 with the support of the Social Democratic Party and the Greens, which had joined the Left in a coalition. This vote, which Ramelow won in the second round, marked the first time the Left had won the leadership of any of Germany's states since the reunification of Germany in 1990.[5]

Ramelow's government lost its majority in the 2019 state election, though his party moved into first place for the first time in any German state. Government formation was complicated by the major success of The Left and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), who between them held a majority. All major parties had pledged their opposition to working with AfD, while the CDU, FDP, and AfD refused to work with The Left. On 5 February 2020, Ramelow was defeated in the Landtag election for Minister President after AfD voted with the FDP and CDU to elect FDP leader Thomas Kemmerich.[6] After it surfaced that Kemmerich may have cooperated with AfD leader Björn Höcke to win the election, Ramelow published a tweet with a photo of Adolf Hitler shaking hands with Paul von Hindenburg during his inauguration as Chancellor alongside a photo of Höcke shaking hands with Kemmerich. The tweet also included a 1930 statement from Hitler about the Nazi Party's position as kingmaker after the 1929 Thuringian election.[7]

In February 2020, Ramelow was criticized because a tweet from the year 2012 surfaced where he posted a photograph of the Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and commented "Comrade Stalin ;-)".[8]

On 4 March, Ramelow was again elected as Minister President by the Landtag due to the abstentions of the CDU and FDP. After the vote, he refused to shake the hand of Björn Höcke, leader of the Thuringian AfD.[9]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany, Ramelow became one of Germany's most prominent critics of lockdowns. Under Ramelow, Thuringia was the first state to lift restrictions following the first wave,[10] and Ramelow resisted lockdown measures requested by Angela Merkel during the second wave in late Autumn and the run-up to Christmas.[11] In January, as Thuringia became Germany's worst affected state, Ramelow announced that he regretted this decision and now supported a hard lockdown.[11]

References

  1. ^ "Verfassungsschutz darf Linke beobachten". dpa (in German). Münchner Merkur. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  2. ^ Küpper, Mechthild (22 July 2010). "Verfassungsschutz darf Ramelow beobachten" (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Court rules against monitoring of Left party politician Ramelow". Deutsche Welle. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  4. ^ Donahue, Patrick (9 October 2013). "German Court Rules Spying on Left Party Lawmaker is Illegal". Bloomberg. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  5. ^ Kirschbaum, Erik (5 December 2014). "German state elects reform communist leader in historic shift". Reuters. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  6. ^ Olterman, Philip (5 February 2020). "Outrage as German centre-right votes with AfD to oust Thuringia premier". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Germany AfD: Thuringia PM quits amid fury over far right". BBC News. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  8. ^ Gensing, Patrick (12 February 2020).""Ramelow-Tweet von 2012 - Wirbel um den "Genossen Stalin". Tagesschau. Retrieved 12 February 2020. In German Ramelow commented: "Genosse Stalin ;-)".
  9. ^ "Left party politician Bodo Ramelow wins key German state vote". Deutsche Welle. 4 March 2020.
  10. ^ Brady, Kate (25 May 2020). "Thuringia: Germany's coronavirus guinea pigs?". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Ramelow fordert "richtigen Lockdown"". n-tv. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
Political offices Preceded byReiner Haseloff President of the Bundesrat 2021–present Incumbent Order of precedence Preceded byOlaf Scholzas Chancellor Order of precedence of GermanyPresident of the Bundesrat Succeeded byStephan Harbarthas President of the Federal Constitutional Court