The German Liberals (FDP) see a new opportunity to be part of a future government in their traditional role as a hinge party. The polls predict the formation led by Christian Lindner, 42, between 10% and 13% of the votes in the elections on September 26, which close the 16 years of leadership of the conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel . In a scenario without absolute majorities, the liberal leader even openly proclaims his goal in a hypothetical participation in a future coalition: he wants to be Minister of Finance.
The FDP considers that the date it has set by fire in its political career has passed, that of November 20, 2017, when Lindner caused an earthquake after the elections of that year by closing six weeks of intense negotiations to make a coalition possible. government of Christian Democrats (Merkel’s CDU and her Bavarian sister party, the CSU), the Greens and the Liberals themselves. The so-called Jamaica coalition, due to the coincidence of the colors of that country’s flag with those of the three parties, was aborted. “Better not to govern than to govern badly,” argued Lindner when announcing the end of the negotiations, which ultimately led Merkel to form the current alliance of the Executive with the Social Democrats of the SPD.
“The CDU had agreed with Los Verdes and they wanted us to be the fifth wheel of the car,” Lindner recalled a few days ago, already in the middle of the campaign, to justify that decision, which left the party very touched and cost him accusations on the part of Los Verdes, who also stayed out of power, having chosen populist agitation over political responsibility.
Now, with just under eight weeks to go until the crucial elections for Merkel’s succession, the leader of the FDP and deputy in the Bundestag feeds a scenario in line with his party’s rise in the polls and his own wishes: his candidate to lead. the federal government is the Christian Democrat Armin Laschet and the perfect candidate for the leadership of the powerful Ministry of Finance is himself.
For several weeks, the FDP has moved in the polls between 10% and up to 13% of vote intention, when a year ago it was stuck in a range of 5% to 7%. The data thus make him a candidate to take into account in post-election negotiations. The Conservatives move around 28%, The Greens between 18% and 20%, and the Social Democrats from 16% to 18% (Alternative for Germany can reach 11%, but the rest of the parties do not consider the extreme right as a partner).
On July 25, in the traditional summer interview with the first public television network ARD, Lindner described an electoral program based on fiscal prudence, private investment and the rejection of tax increases. “I am ready to take over,” he said of his desire to head the Ministry of Finance. “I am in favor of clarity and clear expectations,” he added. After suffering a long journey through the desert because of his decision to abort the 2017 negotiations, Lindner has succeeded in returning the party to the national political debate, in which sell the motto of “opening more opportunities through more freedom” for citizens, and works to shake off the image of a party only friend of millionaires, tax cuts and the free market.
The leader, on his electoral tour of the country, saves on direct attacks on political competition and focuses on asking for the message that there is no tax increase despite the pandemic and that the tax burden on companies is lightened by 60,000 million of euros. The FDP advocates a reduction in mandatory taxes and bureaucracy and an offensive to modernize the state and the economy, all measures that sound good to the business community. The pandemic also helped the party regain ground with persistent criticism of the restrictions promoted by the grand coalition and as a champion of civil liberties in Germany.
The Liberals, moreover, exhibit their participation in the Executives of three regions: In North Rhine-Westphalia they are precisely partners of Laschet’s CDU, whom Lindner sees as the future chancellor; in Rhineland-Palatinate it is in power with Greens and Social Democrats; and in Schleswig-Holstein with the CDU and Los Verdes. ”It is good that Schleswig-Holstein is governed from the center. That is what I would like to see for Germany as well, “he told the newspaper last Sunday. picture. In the federal government they participated for the last time between 2009 and 2013, under the leadership of Merkel.
But liberals know that there are different possibilities for coalition. In a pact between conservatives and the Greens, if the numbers came out and it was feasible for both parties, who would need a liberal party that broke up negotiations in 2017 in a similar constellation? In fact, it would be a novelty at the federal level for the conservatives to rule only with the environmentalists, but it is not in the regions, where that coalition already operates in Baden Württemberg and Hesse.
The Liberal leader’s aspirations are at the expense of the ballot box and the polls at the moment maintain the option of him being a minor partner in two possible coalitions, the so-called Jamaica coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Greens, or the Germany coalition, which would unite the Conservatives, the SPD and Liberals.