person of the week
Christian Lindner will now show the claws
Written by Wolfram Weimer
05/17/2022, 09:41 AM
The FDP is concerned about three disastrous election defeats and poor opinion polls. Voters and the party base miss the character and liberal accents of federal politics. This makes it even more annoying for the traffic lights government. The FDP is likely to relinquish its role as statesman as a generous collective healer.
The New South Wales state elections caused a political backlash in Berlin. The sudden heavy electoral defeat of the SPD and the FDP shook the power structure of the traffic lights government. An NRW election is always a small federal election, and if the government in Berlin gets such a receipt, it means a devastating interim report for the first half of a traffic light year. Moreover, the fact that a successful new coalition with Black-Green is now being formed in the largest federal state has a planned effect for the future in Berlin. Suddenly, the traffic lights coalition felt like a diversion station in the Republic of Berlin. The initial magic of the supposedly buzzing train of progress went;
In the SPD, it is not only the Minister of Defense who is under too much pressure who is under too much pressure. For the chancellor in particular, this defeat has a wrecking ball effect on the statesman’s facades. Suddenly his tight communication, his unemotional hesitation, and his slow reluctance to decide was openly criticized from within the SPD. With Robert Habeck, Annalena Barbock and Frederick Merz, three top politicians distinguish themselves as alternative advisors—because all three embody what Schulz lacks: determination and clear communication.
But for Schulze and his traffic-light coalition, it will also be inconvenient because, on the one hand, the left wing of the SPD will not voluntarily follow the chancellor. In particular, deep divisions are opening up among the Social Democrats on the question of rearmament. On the other hand, a coalition partner was injured three times and is particularly eloquent in the three elections in Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia. The FDP cannot move to the traffic lights agenda. Unlike the SPD, Christian Lindner, head of the FDP, did not say anything nice about the drama. It was a “disastrous defeat”.
It should have ended with a balance gait
Some in Berlin are already saying that liberals are now rolling around like wounded deer and destabilizing the alliance uncontrollably. Shouldn’t that happen, Christian Lindner places great emphasis on his favorite double word (“national political responsibility”) for it. However, Lindner will have to show his profile from now on – and thus will be an even more annoying government partner. Yet, like a quiet group therapist, Lindner was anxious to calm the unbridled mood swings of traffic lights and pair the colorful muscles with his thick, roomy pants. While Habeck and Baerbock lived their profile out loud, Lindner relied on checkbook, settlement, and secrecy. He was of all people, the simple, lustful speaker, the yoga medium at traffic lights in the first half of the year. His current announcement (“The Traffic Signal Alliance was never our dream”) can be read as an announcement that the balancing act is over.
At Christmas, Lindner still feels like the winner in coalition negotiations. But Habek and Birbock later became the networking winners in the first half of the year. Now the third stage of the traffic light connection should begin. From the top of the FDP we can hear in unison that they will now “sharpen their profile”. This has been achieved to some extent in Corona policy as well as in fiscal policy. But only to defend against the extended coronavirus ban or tax increases. Now you have to get out of the defensive position, make your own successes (such as a tax simplification action plan) and engage in tougher arguments. This may affect the European Central Bank and Christine Lagarde, for example, the blame for inflation is clear but not addressed by the Finance Minister for Peace.
In the coalition, too, budget issues are likely to become uncomfortable from now on. Like the liberal lion, Lindner will fight for his repeatedly promised goal of complying with the debt brake once again from 2023. The zoo’s fiscal-policy petting phase is drawing to a close.
It will be interesting
Lindner knows that he is losing many voters to the CDU because of the economic liberal presence in Friedrich Mers. He will use even more the power of his government to make himself visible as an actor. To date, making Treasury available as a flexible lever to balance power, raising funds for many involved. From now on he must show the claws, especially since his department can rule in all other ministries due to budgetary competence. The Basic Law expressly grants the Federal Minister of Finance the right to veto all financial policy decisions of the Federal Government, which apply even to the Federal Chancellery. According to Article 112, “excess and unscheduled expenditures” also require the approval of the Minister of Finance.
Lindner bears in mind the shocking example of Guido Westerwelle. After only one legislature, he had to be responsible for the FDP’s collapse from record results to its expulsion from the Bundestag because it was unable to give federal politics a liberal image, and frustrated middle-class people ended up rallying behind the CDU again. Lindner wants to avoid that at all costs. He would relinquish the notable role of “Opel friendly driver in a red-green rally” (that’s how Wirtschaftswoche currently sees it) and would have to quit a motorized Porsche. His partners know this, too. “The Liberals have been amazingly good so far, this should be over by now,” says one of the senior Greens already. But what happens to the government when the collective therapist’s voice suddenly becomes louder? It would definitely be sexy.