Free Democrats

Germany's Liberals Ready for a Reboot

FDP distorted
The FDP needs a makeover. Source. DAPD
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    A reinvigorated Free Democratic Party could pose a challenge to Germany’s current right-left coalition government of Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD).

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The center-right FDP was founded in 1948 and is led today by 35-year-old Christian Lindner.
    • The FDP stands for economic liberalism and opposes strong government regulation. They tend to represent the interests of entrepreneurs and Germany’s prolific amount of small and midsize businesses.
    • In the 2013 elections, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) fell short of the 5 percent threshold for the first time in the party’s history.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

What would a business owner do if the firm’s market share dropped from 15 percent to less than 5 percent, like the past performance of Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP)?

Four years ago, I asked this question as the former federal chairwoman of young entrepreneurs at the liberal FDP’s Freedom Congress and pointed out possible answers.

But while Germany’s “grand coalition” government has gambled away the sustainability of our country with its redistributive actions and the economy falters, the FDP is capable of a political turnaround.

Today I am no longer bound to political neutrality and am strongly convinced that Germany can only thrive in a globally competitive future if it clearly establishes itself as a more market-oriented nation.

Germany’s market-oriented thinking, however, has been orphaned.

We have a unique chance to start the FDP – the party of political liberalism – anew. Although by “we” I mean the minority, in principle it is still a big group of liberal-thinking citizens. Germany has an unchanged and very considerable social milieu of those who do not seek complete dependence on the state and its welfare system.

The performance-oriented employers, the entrepreneurs and the freelancers who carry our society did not abruptly disappear in 2013. Many of them would prefer to vote for liberals again.

The last big project of outstanding importance for the sustainability of Germany was Agenda 2010’s reforms. With a liberal Agenda 2025, a liberal party could differentiate itself from others and become attractive again for a wide range of voters. The FDP must remember it can  be a liberal party once more, open to the world and critical at the same time.

It must create conditions for individuals and those weaker in our society to pursue new opportunities and achieve them. The FDP would be civic in the best sense of the word after a restart – emerging from the middle of society, straightforward and predictable.

Germany without political liberalism would soon be poorer in every respect.

We expect our FDP to energetically champion topics that have made our country strong in the past, and are also relevant in the present and future. These include: appropriate taxes, a fair retirement system and a responsible budget policy.

The FDP must also identify further important political areas where the liberals can excel. For example, an education system that opens up opportunities, a market-oriented energy policy and family policies that produce better work-life balances.

As an entrepreneur, I have great concerns about the current situation in Germany and Europe and the future for my company, the people and our country. I want to do something. Therefore, I am getting involved on a voluntary basis to help re-establish the FDP.

It makes sense that as many smart people as possible work together in a heterogeneous structure for this rebuilding. The party of the future must succeed in developing itself from the bottom up, without conforming to the lowest common denominator of the many party members. 

The FDP is moving in this direction because it is integrating its members’ views into the development of a new mission statement. Parallel and complementary to this, I and other like-minded individuals have founded the Network of Liberals for Agenda 2025. Public figures from science, culture and the economy are our debating partners and provide inspirations and ideas, including public-image strategies.

I’m convinced that smart people can achieve more together than alone, and I would like to do my share. Germany without political liberalism would soon be poorer in every respect.

 

To contact the author: gastautor@handelsblatt.com

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