The CDU leader is ready to form a coalition with the Sahra Wagenknecht alliance at the state level. In doing so, he is finally breaking the ice for new government alliances.

Merz and Wagenknecht face off in the elephant group on election night

There is still a long way to go: Merz and Wagenknecht at the elephant round in Berlin on election night Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa

Friedrich Merz probably doesn't like being caught in a comment with a leftist, but today it has to be like that: because he and Bodo Ramelow deserve a thank you. The CDU chairman has withdrawn his statement about coalitions with the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) and no longer rules them out at the state level. And Ramelow helpfully pointed out at the Taz Panter Forum in Erfurt that, unlike Wagenknecht, he was never a member of the SED.

Even if they pursue different goals, the statements taken together show that there is finally movement in the partisan landscape.

It is true that Ramelow points out how absurd it is for the Union to rule out a coalition with him, the father of the State, but not with the BSW. This is not about the SED's past, which the Union likes to refer to. It's about a worldview: the left is a leftist party, the BSW is not. Of course, the Union has more in common with the latter.

BSW is changing the party landscape

Merz's statement is a start, and the summer is still young: Thuringians have long known that there are no good reasons to rule out a coalition with Ramelow. The rest of the republic should understand this too by autumn, perhaps even House Adenauer. And then the Union's only intact firewall, the one on the left, could fall. It would be an involuntary parting gift from Sahra Wagenknecht to his former party.

But it is also good, beyond Thuringia and the CDU, that new coalitions with the BSW are possible. Another red-red-green minority government, secretly tolerated by the Union, is not just a mathematical option in Thuringia. Such a coalition of all parties against the AfD would strengthen Björn Höcke in the medium term. And the federal government also needs alternatives to traffic lights and the grand coalition.

In Thuringia, the BSW could finish ahead of the CDU. The parties are little by little becoming aware that BSW is not just an alternative to the left. It has the potential to change the partisan landscape.