Party wants to elect new leadership

The Free Democrats met on Friday for a three-day federal party conference in Berlin. Party leader Lindner is standing for re-election.

Christian Lindner at the federal party conference of the FDP.

Christian Lindner at the federal party conference of the FDP.Achille Abboud/imago

Under the impression of several sensitive election defeats in the federal states, the FDP will meet for its federal party conference in Berlin on Friday. By Sunday, the Free Democrats want to re-elect their leadership and stake out the further course in the traffic light coalition. Party leader Christian Lindner first presented his statement of accounts on the first day of the meeting and then asked for re-election. Two years ago – a few months before the general election – 93 percent of the delegates voted for him. His result now can also be seen as an indication of how satisfied the party base is with what has been achieved so far in the traffic light coalition with the SPD and the Greens.

The three-day party conference was opened at 11 a.m. by European politician Nicola Beer. The deputy party leader explained that the FDP was “the essential part” of the federal government – “the part that has its fingers on the till, that promotes progress, that ensures mobility, that ensures justice”. The FDP convinced the voters “that this country must not be left to the others alone, that our society needs the liberal compass and that this traffic light needs the liberal corrective”.

Beer is no longer a candidate for party vice-presidency and is to represent Germany as vice-president on the Executive Committee of the European Investment Bank (EIB). Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger wants to run for one of the three deputy posts.

The stage of the FDP federal party conference is reflected in a glass table.  One of the items on the agenda is the re-election of the party leadership.

The stage of the FDP federal party conference is reflected in a glass table. One of the items on the agenda is the re-election of the party leadership.Christoph Soeder/dpa

Strack-Zimmermann on the party conference: debates in the traffic light coalition are normal

According to FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the tone of voice within the traffic light coalition has not intensified. Of course there are differences between the Free Democrats and the Greens. “I don’t think it’s hard, I think it’s normal,” she said on Deutschlandfunk on Friday. There were also disputes in the coalition with the Union. At the federal party conference of the FDP in Berlin starting this Friday, it is about the party reviewing and sharpening its profile. “But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to make compromises in a coalition. That’s only natural.”

The FDP board nominated the defense politician on Thursday as the top candidate for the European elections next year. She said on Friday on Deutschlandfunk that one lesson learned from the Ukraine war was that Europe can only defend its values ​​together. “What is important, however, is that Germany plays a decisive role in this and I would like to make a decisive contribution to this over the next few years.”

After several years of crisis, the FDP politician Bettina Stark-Watzinger wants to focus on a growth agenda. At the upcoming FDP party conference at the weekend, you have to “set the right accents” and tackle future issues in Germany more intensively, said the Federal Minister of Education on Friday in the ZDF morning magazine.

With a view to the party’s weak polls, Stark-Watzinger said that the FDP did not measure itself against other parties, but went into coalition negotiations with its own goals and ideas. “We have our own ideas and that’s why it’s our job. The point is to struggle for the best solutions.”

Bad election results: parts of the FDP are critical of the traffic light coalition

Since the federal elections in autumn 2021, the FDP has failed at the five percent hurdle in the state elections in Saarland, in Lower Saxony and in the repeat election in Berlin. In Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia, she managed to return to the state parliament despite heavy losses, but was kicked out of government in each case. In response to the poor results, Lindner announced that he would “work out and strengthen” his own positions and turn on the liberal “position lights”. The work of the FDP in the traffic light should become more visible.

The coalition with the SPD and the Greens is still viewed critically by parts of the party. Lindner has always made it clear that this is not a love marriage, but an alliance of convenience. The Liberals only agreed to this because after the federal elections in 2021, a different government constellation was not possible due to the weakness of the Union at the time.

Clinch with SPD and Greens about nuclear power plants and combustion engines

In recent months, the FDP has repeatedly been at odds with the SPD and the Greens. She insisted that combustion engines should continue to be approved if they are operated with e-fuels. The FDP declared the shutdown of the last three German nuclear power plants to be wrong. For energy security and to avoid coal-fired power, continued operation of the kiln is necessary. She asserted that not only should rail traffic be expanded at an accelerated pace, but also up to 145 motorway projects, which are traffic jams and bottlenecks. And when the cabinet passed the law on retrofitting heating systems this week, Lindner agreed, but expressed reservations in a statement in the minutes.

Climate protection movements such as Fridays for Future and Last Generation see this as completely backward-looking politics and therefore want to accompany the federal party conference with protests. They also criticize the fact that the climate targets are being broken in the transport sector for which Volker Wissing (FDP) is responsible. In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, climate activist Luisa Neubauer accused the Federal Minister of Transport of “refusing to work on climate policy”. He must resign.

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