German conservative leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Monday (Oct 28) faced a rebellion by party members angry at a humiliating election result in eastern Thuringia state where the Christian Democrats (CDU) lost voters to both the far-left and far-right.
Discontent within the CDU grew louder after their fourth setback at the ballot box this year under Kramp-Karrenbauer, who has countered mounting doubts about her suitability to lead the conservatives in the next federal election in 2021 since she became chairwoman in December.
The CDU dropped from first to third place in Thuringia, falling behind the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in second and the far-left Linke party, which came out first with just over 30 per cent of the vote.
The inconclusive election has put the onus on the CDU to ditch its long-established policy of ostracizing the Linke, which conservative leaders deem the reincarnation of the Communist party that ruled East Germany until 30 years ago.
Thuringia's Linke-led coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens lacks a majority to continue governing and needs the CDU on board for a stable coalition. All parties refuse to work with the AfD, which they accuse of racist rhetoric against Muslim migrants.
Mike Mohring, CDU leader in Thuringia, led the charge against his party's position, saying it was up to him, and not Chancellor Angela Merkel or Kramp-Karrenbauer, to decide on a policy reversal that opens the door for a possible coalition with the Linke.
I do not rule out talks with those who respect our constitution and want to build Thuringia with us, Mohring told public broadcaster MDR. I do not need Berlin for the question of how we can take responsibility for the sake of our state.
Ingo Senftleben, former CDU leader in Brandenburg who resigned last month after his party fell to third place in a regional election, was more direct.