|Minister President of Thuringia|
5 December 2014
|Preceded by||Christine Lieberknecht|
16 February 1956 |
Osterholz-Scharmbeck, West Germany
|Political party||The Left|
|Profession||Retail Business Management Assistant|
Bodo Ramelow (German pronunciation: [ˈboːdoː ˈʁaməloː] ( listen); born 16 February 1956 in Osterholz-Scharmbeck) is a German politician of the Left Party who has been Minister President of Thuringia since 2014. Previously he was chairman of his party's group in the Landtag of Thuringia.
Ramelow was born and raised in West Germany. He is a trained retail salesman and became an official in 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 post-Communist 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".
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. The decision was widely seen as a major victory for Ramelow's party as well.
State premier of Thuringia
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 unification of Germany in 1990.
- "Court rules against monitoring of Left party politician Ramelow". Deutsche Welle. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- Donahue, Patrick (9 October 2013). "German Court Rules Spying on Left Party Lawmaker is Illegal". Bloomberg. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- Erik Kirschbaum, "German State Elects Reform Communist Leader in Historic Shift", Reuters, 5 December 2014.
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