FDP conceded fifth defeat in a row

FDP conceded fifth defeat in a row

Berlin The defeat of FDP in the re-election in Berlin will also have consequences for the traffic light alliance in the federal government. Party leader resigned Christian Lindner on Monday that he would stick to the previous strategy of the Liberals in the traffic light coalition. At the same time, however, Lindner named three subject areas on which the FDP now wants to score. For the Greens in particular, these announcements should sound like a declaration of war.

One conclusion from the Berlin election result, said Lindner, was that “policy against the car is not in the interest of the people”. Transport policy was a central election campaign issue in the capital, with the Greens on the one hand and CDU and FDP attacked on the other side.

But the issue has also been causing conflict in the traffic light coalition for weeks. When speeding up planning and approval processes, the FDP got into a dispute with the Greens over the question of whether this should also apply to the construction of new motorways. After Lindner’s announcement, it is hardly to be expected that the Liberals will now give way.

Especially since faster planning and approval processes are also part of a second focus that Lindner mentions: “The traffic light only has a chance of re-election if we bring the country back on the path to economic success,” he said.

On the one hand, the sentence contains a commitment to coalitionon the other hand, the FDP boss links this to an expectation SPD and Greens Because, from Lindner’s point of view, economic success requires “more market freedom” and “less burdens”. However, the Social Democrats and the Greens are not very impressed by the liberal tax relief plans.

And conflicts are also foreseeable on the third topic, on which Lindner wants to draw conclusions after the Berlin elections: “Cosmopolitanism and control” are needed in equal measure in migration policy, Lindner demanded. While there is agreement in the traffic light alliance on the immigration of qualified specialists, the second part of the Greens but also parts of the SPD encounter reservations. You have to “irregular migration to Germany stop it,” demanded Lindner. Integration issues also need to be addressed.

FDP top candidate Sebastian Czaja

The Liberals are no longer represented in the Berlin House of Representatives.

(Photo: dpa)

Lindner names three topics that played a role in the Berlin state election campaign and there especially the CDU used. The FDP, on the other hand, was expelled from the Berlin House of Representatives. The party only achieved 4.6 percent in the repeat election, in 2021 it was 7.1 percent.

>> Read here: Seven lessons from the election to the House of Representatives

In Berlin, the Liberals could not benefit from the mood of change. The voters who were dissatisfied with the red-green-red Senate mainly went to the CDU. The FDP has lost voters to the CDU and to the camp of non-voters, said Lindner. One reason: The fact that the Liberals were in government together with the SPD and the Greens made the election campaign for the Berlin FDP more difficult.

How much does the traffic light harm the FDP?

But even if Lindner now refers to the special circumstances in Berlin, unrest is spreading in the party. Because for the FDP it is the fifth electoral defeat in a row since the federal election in 2021. In October it failed in Lower Saxony at the five percent hurdle. And in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia, the FDP was kicked out of the state governments in 2022. In Saarland she missed the leap into the state parliament.

CDU triumphs in election to the House of Representatives

With every further defeat, the party discusses the question more intensely: How high is the price that the FDP has to pay for the traffic light alliance in the federal government?

>> Read here: The traffic light cannot agree on these central projects

As a precaution, Lindner dismissed all doubts about the traffic light on Monday. The party adjusted the strategy a few months ago and will not change it, said the FDP leader. According to him, it consists of three elements: The aim is to show that Germany is well governed. You got through the crisis well, the traffic light reacted “appropriately and decisively”.

After the crisis management, according to Linder’s will, the coalition should now – secondly – fulfill the promises of modernization with which it once started. The FDP boss mentions the acceleration of planning and approval procedures, de-bureaucratization and digitization. Lindner expects the Liberals to appear with their ministers as “designers”.

>> Read here: Seven lessons from the election to the House of Representatives

But even if you want to emphasize the joint successes, the FDP leader makes it clear that the Liberals will continue to block some of the coalition partners’ projects in the future. That is the third component of the strategy: “In the traffic light coalition, we are the guarantor for a policy of the center”. Everything the finance minister sees as a shift to the left, such as tax increases, he wants to prevent.

Self-praise, claim to form and blockade

With this triad of self-praise, design standards and blockade, the FDP has been trying to score points for some time now. This did not lead to success in the Berlin state elections. From Lindner’s point of view, there hasn’t been enough time for that. But the FDP stands on “a solid foundation in principle,” he said. In the medium term, this will also pay off in the state elections.

The question is how long the liberal base can still be ordered to remain calm, how long other state associations can keep their nerves. There will be elections in Bremen in May, and this election has more or less already been ticked off by the party leadership. Traditionally, the FDP has little to gain in Bremen.

The autumn elections in Bavaria and Hesse will be decisive. Campaigners there warn that if the Liberals are also defeated here, they will hardly recover before the general election.

>> Read here: Fateful year for the liberals – an insecure FDP wants to encourage itself

“Bitter evening for the Liberals,” tweeted the Bavarian top candidate Martin Hagen on Sunday after it became apparent that the FDP would not make it into the Berlin House of Representatives. “The traffic light still doesn’t bring any tailwind,” he added.

Despite the series of losses, there has been little criticism of Lindner and the party leadership. A few people, such as Minister of Transport Volker Wissing, have only secretly commented on individual federal ministers and accused them of poor performance.

Will it remain so calm? There will be a mood test on the mood of the party base at the end of April. Then the Liberals meet for the federal party conference and re-elect their party leadership.

More: Berlin faces a coalition of losers – comment

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