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Free Democratic Party calls for economic transformation: party conference under pressure

Free Democratic Party calls for economic transformation: party conference under pressure

As of: April 26, 2024 at 2:54 p.m

With its twelve-point paper on economic transformation, the FDP is increasing pressure on the SPD and Greens ahead of their party conference at the weekend. But the party itself is facing a problem, also due to poor opinion poll numbers.

Martin Polanski

Anyone who talks to FDP politicians these days will hear one word very quickly and often: economic transformation. The party leadership is currently warning that this is urgently needed, especially FDP leader Christian Lindner in almost every interview and statement.

The slogan will also define the FDP's federal party conference this weekend in Berlin. The main proposal is titled: “An economic transformation for Germany – a priority for growth, security, innovation and opportunities for progress.” The FDP leadership has already tried to introduce this term in several newspapers and by giving an offensive interview beforehand and thus attracting attention to itself.

Economic change – for the FDP means: tax relief for companies and employees, no new social benefits, the abolition of the so-called retirement pension at 63 and rapid penalties on citizens' benefits for those who refuse to work.

Increased pressure

The Social Democratic coalition partner initially reacted with a loud “no”, but the Green Party waved them off in a calmer but also misleading way. FDP Secretary General Bijan Jir Saray likes to stress that it is about demands for an FDP congress. After all, the entire Traffic Light Alliance doesn't meet on the weekend. However, decisions should not be made for the sake of meeting minutes alone.

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Gir Sarai Vs ARD Capital Studio“But of course this is not an opposition party conference, but a government party conference. As a government party, we will do everything in our power to ensure that these points can eventually be implemented. Because we are convinced that if we don't do this, others won't.” Thus, Gir Sarai increases the pressure on the coalition partners even before the party congress.

Is the Free Democratic Party hitting a sensitive nerve in the East?

At the same time, the FDP itself is under pressure. Approval rates are bad. In opinion polls for the upcoming European elections and votes in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg, the FDP is sometimes well below five percent.

The FDP hopes to react to the economic transformation, especially in East Germany. Lydia Hoskins, FDP Infrastructure Minister for Saxony-Anhalt, welcomed the new project. ARD Capital Studio Understood, for example, with tougher penalties planned for citizens' money if job offers are rejected: “I think the issue of equality of performance – that we as a country help those who need help, but we don't help those who want to gain.” themselves comfortable – something that “must be emphasized, especially in the East German states.” Therefore, a strong focus on economic issues is extremely important.

Discontent among the party base

The shift paper could also be seen as an attempt to placate the party's base, where dissatisfaction with the traffic light policy can be heard time and again. In an opinion poll conducted five months ago, only a small majority supported the continuation of the coalition. Many in the party are pushing to make the economic liberal image clearer.

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Franziska Brandmann, president of the Young Liberals, resigns from her position ARD Capital Studio I have already started talking at the party conference about the so-called pension package that FDP Finance Minister Christian Lindner and SPD Labor Minister Hubertus Hill have just agreed in principle: “There has to be a renegotiation. I would like that to happen before That the law be passed.” “I would like Hubertus Hill and Christian Lindner to look deeply into each other's eyes and then submit a new draft.”

The pension package provides for maintaining the level of pensions until 2039 while at the same time placing a greater burden on shareholders. According to the Young Liberals, this comes primarily at the expense of young people. “That is not the case, Mr. Hale.” They want to make that clear through an action at the federal party conference, which is expected to lead to a lively debate.

2024 is not 1982

Some are now speculating that the FDP wants the Traffic Light Coalition to collapse in the near future – similar to 1982, when the FDP switched from an alliance with Helmut Schmidt's Social Democrats to a Helmut Kohl union while demanding change.

FDP Secretary-General Geir Sarai rejects such similarities: “The present time cannot be compared to what it was then. There was also a completely different majority composition in the German Bundestag at that time, as well as options that were possible from Theoretically, it is not possible.

Because the situation has become different than it was in 1982. If the coalition collapses, the Union and the Free Democratic Party will not have a majority now. But this question does not arise, says Ger Sarai. “Because our goal, starting with the party conference, is to introduce measures that will make our country economically strong again. And we want to implement that within the coalition, we want to implement that with this coalition.”

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This can be understood as adhering to traffic lights – and this is also an important message from the FDP ahead of the party conference at the weekend. But one thing is clear: from Monday, the Lib Dems will press the Coalition with their will to transform the economy.

Martin Polanski, Tagesschau, April 26, 2024, 9:34 pm