Newly elected premier of Thuringia state Thomas Kemmerich calls for dissolution of assembly after Chancellor Angela Merkel says his election with support from her party and far-right AfD was inexcusable.
The premier of Germany's Thuringia state stepped down and called for snap elections on Thursday, barely 24 hours after he was elected with the help of far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) lawmakers in a vote German leader Angela Merkel called a "bad day for democracy" and "unforgivable."
Thomas Kemmerich, from the liberal Free Democrats, drew widespread criticism after becoming the first state premier to be elected with the support of the far-right AfD.
Chancellor Angela Merkel had condemned her Christian Democrats (CDU) for siding with the AfD in the vote.
"This event is inexcusable and so the result must be reversed," Merkel told a news conference during a visit to South Africa.
Kemmerich said he would apply for the regional parliament to be dissolved in response to the outrage over his appointment, which drew comparisons with the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s.
"We want new elections to remove the stain of the AfD's support from the office of the premiership," he told reporters, adding that his resignation was "unavoidable."
Kemmerich's election on Wednesday marked the first time in German post-war history that a state premier was helped into office by accepting far-right votes, crossing a red line in a nation haunted by its Nazi past.
He became the surprise winner of a run-off vote after AfD lawmakers ditched their own candidate to back him, in what Kemmerich called "a perfidious trick" by the far right.
Merkel reiterated that her centre-right CDU would never work with the anti-Islam, anti-immigrant AfD, on a regional or national level.
Thousands protest outcome
Thousands took to the streets in cities across Germany late Wednesday to vent their dismay at the vote outcome, including in Berlin, Frankfurt and Thuringia's capital Erfurt.
Some carried signs that read "Never again," while others recalled that it was in Thuringia in 1930 that a Nazi minister was first allowed into government.
Merkel's coalition partners, the centre-left Social Democratic (SPD), reacted furiously to the debacle, calling for her conservative party to clearly distance itself from the AfD if the national government is to survive.
"There can be no carrying on as usual without resolving this problem," fumed SPD co-leader Norbert Walter-Borjans.
The SPD and CDU are due to hold crisis talks in Berlin on Saturday.
In Thuringia, the AfD is led by Bjoern Hoecke, one of the party's most radical figures who has called for a "180-degree turn" in Germany's atonement for Nazi crimes.
A picture of Hoecke shaking hands with Kemmerich after the election win was splashed across the front pages of several German newspapers.
"The handshake of shame," screamed best-selling daily Bild, slamming Kemmerich for "letting himself be elected by a neo-Nazi."
On social media, the picture was quickly twinned with one of Adolf Hitler shaking hands with German president Paul von Hindenburg in 1933, the year Hitler became chancellor.