Bodo Ramelow

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Bodo Ramelow
2019-10-27 Wahlabend Thüringen by Sandro Halank–57.jpg
Ramelow in 2019
Minister President of Thuringia
In office
5 December 2014 – 5 February 2020
DeputyHeike Taubert
Preceded byChristine Lieberknecht
Succeeded byThomas Kemmerich
Leader of Die Linke in the Thuringian Landtag
In office
3 November 2009 – 5 December 2014
Preceded byDieter Hausold
Succeeded bySusanne Hennig-Wellsow
Leader of the Party of Democratic Socialism in the Thuringian Landtag
In office
14 November 2001 – 17 October 2005
Preceded byGabi Zimmer
Succeeded byDieter Hausold
Member of the Landtag of Thuringia
for Erfurt III
Assumed office
27 October 2019
Preceded byMarion Walsmann
In office
27 September 2009 – 14 September 2014
Preceded byMarion Walsmann
Succeeded byMarion Walsmann
Member of the Landtag of Thuringia
In office
14 September 2014 – 31 March 2015
ConstituencyDie Linke List
In office
12 September 1999 – 13 June 2004
ConstituencyDemocratic Socialist List
Member of the Bundestag
for Thuringia
In office
18 September 2005 – 30 August 2009
ConstituencyDemocratic Socialist List
Member of the Landtag of Thuringia
for Erfurt I
In office
13 June 2004 – 17 October 2005
Preceded byJohanna Arenhövel
Succeeded byKarola Stange
Personal details
Born (1956-02-16) 16 February 1956 (age 64)
Osterholz-Scharmbeck, Lower Saxony, West Germany
Political partyThe Left
ProfessionRetail business management assistant

Bodo Ramelow (German pronunciation: [ˈboːdoː ˈʁaməloː]; born 16 February 1956) is a German politician. He served as Minister President of Thuringia from 2014 until 2020. A member of the The Left, he previously chaired the party's group in the Landtag of Thuringia.

Political career[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.[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 General Secretary Joseph Stalin and commented “Partner Stalin ;-)”[8].


  1. ^ "Verfassungsschutz darf Linke beobachten". dpa (in German). Münchner Merkur. 2010-07-21. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  2. ^ Küpper, Mechthild (2010-07-22). "Verfassungsschutz darf Ramelow beobachten" (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  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 (2014-12-05). "German state elects reform communist leader in historic shift". Reuters. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  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 ;-)”.

External links[edit]