When Bodo Ramelow was elected in Thuringia in autumn 2014 first and still only left Prime Minister in Germany, the expectations were great, with supporters and opponents. Some hoped for a left-wing moral change in the country that had been governed by the CDU for 24 years. The others stood many thousand times with candles in the cathedral square in Frankfurt and feared the resurrection of SED socialism in the colors of the Federal Republic.
But after five years, a similarly calm balance can be drawn as the prime minister himself did. His government, he said more than a year ago, in a particularly honest moment, "managed" the country. The left-wing congressional speeches, in which all progressive and socially equitable achievements are listed, belong in the same category as the oppositionist doomsday decrees of the CDU and AfD. In both cases it is propaganda.
First of all: Thuringia is doing well, at least in comparison with the other East German countries. In the educational monitor of the far-left initiative New Social Market Economy, it is in third place behind Saxony and Bavaria, despite a high drop in class. In addition, the country has the least unemployed in the East, even less than North Rhine-Westphalia, the Saarland or Hamburg. Only in terms of economic growth did Thuringia lose 0.6 percent in the meantime.
The abstract term demographic change
In other words, the smallest Free State of Germany is not worse off in most areas than it was five years ago, when the CDU had to give up power - but not better either. For the sole exception, the government can do little: the country received so much money in this election period thanks to the stable, nationwide boom as never before, and this despite falling subsidies from the Solidarity Pact, which comes in this year. As a result, Red-Red-Green has been able to increase annual spending by more than 20 percent and still reduce old debt of one billion euros.
Also, the problems, the Thuringia under the Ramelowplagen government, fit into what is to be heard from the other East German countries. There is a lack of equity, value added and research resources. And it is missing, this is a slightly newer development, to teachers, police officers, rural doctors, apprentices, skilled workers and in general to people of working age. Although fewer and fewer Thuringians are leaving, there are too few young families - and thus too few children. The abstract term demographic change in reality means that in 20 years, just over 1.8 million people will live in the country, about 300,000 less than current. Then every third inhabitant will be over 65 years old.
New ideas to counteract this trend were not red-green-red either. After all, the prime minister personally took care of recruiting apprentices in the former GDR partner country Vietnam for Thuringian companies. This, too, contributed to the fact that the majority of employment growth is now borne by foreigners. On the other hand, his attempt to redirect the refugee crisis into a training and employment program was very limited. Because of a lack of language skills and educational qualifications, only a few of the approximately 25,000 refugees living in Thuringia have been lost in the primary labor market.
Red-Red-Green was, as the program of the government parties, from the beginning friendly to attack. Ramelow, together with leading coalition representatives, even in the fall of 2015 in Saalfelder station on the track to welcome the first train with the Syrian refugees from Austria. But what came next surprised even the only German left government. Quickly the hostels were overcrowded, the conditions in it became unbearable. There were riots and attacks. When the situation calmed down somewhat, Red-Red-Green tried liberal integration plans, generous labor market programs and decentralized housing. In addition, the state government relied on voluntary departure for rejected applicants. Nevertheless, hundreds of people were deported from Thuringia year after year, on average, it was scarcely less than from other countries.