The mayor of the southern Thuringian city of Hildburghausen, Tilo Kummer (left), did not survive a voting procedure supported by SPD and AfD city councils. According to a preliminary result, 2,853 people voted in favor of being voted out on Sunday, 1,390 against, as voting leader Kristin Obst said after counting all the votes. The referendum was initiated by city councils from the SPD, AfD and a far-right voters' association, among others, which sparked controversy, especially within the SPD in Thuringia.
In the vote-out motion, the signatories had argued that the relationship of trust between the citizens and the mayor was disturbed. Concerned residents have sometimes contacted the city council personally because they are dissatisfied with his administration. Disputes included a swimming pool, problems in a kindergarten and the fire brigade.
Leading Thuringian SPD politicians had warned against launching the voting-off procedure against Kummer together with the AfD and the city council of the Bündnis-Zukunft-Hildburghausen (BZH) voters' association. In the 2019 report for the protection of the constitution, the BZH group was described as the "leading right-wing extremist group in the Hildburghausen district". In Thuringia, the AfD state association is also classified as right-wing extremist by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution and is being observed.
A two-thirds majority in the city council was required to initiate the vote-out procedure. All councilors except those on the left had voted in favor of the procedure. The only CDU city councilor was absent from the vote. Without the three SPD votes, the two-thirds majority would not have been enough.
The three SPD city councilors also ignored warnings from Thuringia's SPD leader Georg Maier, who had previously said: "We cannot get a left-wing mayor voted out with AfD votes."
Maier said on Sunday after the election: "Great political damage has been done." At the same time, he questioned whether the means of voting out in the Kummers case was proportionate. "To vote out a democratically elected mayor is a measure with far-reaching consequences," said Maier. If there were criminally relevant allegations, it would be something else. But that was not the case with Kummer. "From a local political point of view, how are we supposed to find people for such offices if they are constantly in danger of being voted out in the event of disputes or differences of opinion?" asked Maier. There were problems in Hildburghausen. In his opinion, however, these would not have had the character “to vote out a democratically elected mayor again”.
The citizens now had the last word on Kummer's future as mayor. More yes votes than no votes were needed for the deselection, and the yes votes had to be at least 30 percent of the 9338 eligible voters, so 2802 yes votes were needed according to the voting manager. Hildburghausen residents aged 16 and over could cast their votes.
Now the election result must first be officially determined. According to earlier information from the district of Hildburghausen, there should be a meeting of the voting committee on Monday. Later, the legal supervisory authority has to check everything, according to the district, it could take a week. As soon as the result is also determined there, Kummer leaves office the day after. Then there should also be a date for the new election of the mayor.
One city councilor has since left the SPD, and party organization proceedings were initiated against the other two Social Democrats on the city council, but were later shelved.
Kummer announced that he did not want to run for mayor in Hildburghausen again. "I hope that the next mayor of Hildburghausen belongs to the democratic spectrum," he said.