The damage caused by the Erfurt scandal is difficult to repair, Lindner knows that. “Of course, a situation has now arisen in which we have to answer questions about the reliability of the FDP and its clear stance,” said the party leader. “A lot of explanatory work” was still required for this.
Initial data from the pollsters indicate the extent of the explanatory work. According to a survey published by the Forsa survey institute last weekend, the value of the federal FDP halved to five percent after the Kemmerich election. The Liberals look to Hamburg, where elections will take place in two weeks. It is not certain that the FDP can remain in the citizenship there.
There is also a lot of misunderstanding in the economy, which often feels well represented by the FDP. Employer President Ingo Kramer said Kemmerich’s resignation was “an overdue step”. “However, it shouldn’t have happened so far. I am stunned by the political instinct of leading politicians in Thuringia, who in their naivety apparently did not know how their actions worked, ”said Kramer, who is also a FDP member.
As an entrepreneur, he was “horrified by this lack of maturity”. The President of the Federal Association of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) does not name any party in his statement. But alongside the Union, the liberals in particular should feel addressed.
Violent criticism from the economy
Other entrepreneurs are becoming clearer. “I still can not believe that a party that has just slipped back into the state parliament of Thuringia can be so instrumentalized,” said Sabine Fuchsberger-Paukert, head of the medium-sized drug importer Ilapo.
According to her assessment, the only correct answer from Kemmerich would have been: “I reject the election.” The role of the Federal Party in the events in Erfurt was also questionable, Lindner was actually no longer tenable. “However, this also applies to top representatives of other parties.”
In Thuringia, the FDP “had a blue-eyed look on the cross,” said Ulrich Dietz, founder of the IT service provider GFT and vice president of the digital association Bitkom. “Not recognizing the consequences was a dramatic political misjudgment.” Dietz believes that the party will come out of the events damaged. “There is an urgent need for strong and clear leadership now,” he said.
Lindner is still the right party chairman. In addition to him, the FDP needed “good experts with political intuition and experience”. Lutz Goebel, managing partner of Henkelhausen and former president of the family business, complained that the FDP had “been caught unawares”. Goebel also considers Lindner to be the right man at the top of the FDP. However, the Thuringia debacle could “be an occasion to put the party’s leadership on a broader base”.
Martin Kind from the hearing aid chain of the same name also sees the behavior of the FDP very critically. The way in which the Liberals presented themselves in connection with Thuringia was “to be completely rejected politically”. Felix Ahlers, CEO and co-owner of the frozen food manufacturer Frosta, warns: “The FDP and all democratic parties should consistently stay away from the AfD. Lindner may have seen this just in time. “
Two uniformed officers stood in the entrance area of the Genscher House on Friday, two days after Kemmerich’s fateful decision to accept the election as Prime Minister. It is unusual for Lindner to hold a press conference under police protection. The debate on the federal executive was still going on when Lindner stepped in front of the cameras.
But he was already able to announce the most important result for him personally: “I am grateful to my party that it gave me confidence with a very strong result.” 33 board members voted yes. Two participants abstained, only one withdrew Lindner’s confidence in the secret vote.
Simmer in North Rhine-Westphalia
The consternation about the events of Erfurt was also great in the FDP itself. Leading liberals asked why Lindner had not stopped Kemmerich’s plans. And why in his first statement after the election he hadn’t asked the party friend to resign. According to information from the Handelsblatt, there was particularly a surge in the powerful state association of North Rhine-Westphalia, of which Lindner also belongs.
There is talk that the head of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Joachim Stamp, the general secretary of North Rhine-Westphalia, Johannes Vogel, and the parliamentary group vice-president, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who was also from the state association, had discussions about what to do if Lindner made another serious mistake in the next few months. Other sources deny that.
Like Lindner, Stamp, Vogel and Lambsdorff come from the FDP district association in Cologne / Bonn, it is said that they are friends. It is completely absurd that one thinks about the fall of the boss. The North Rhine-Westphalia in their first reaction to the Kemmerich election had been much clearer than Lindner and had asked the Thuringian party friend to resign.
During the debate by the FDP federal executive board on Friday, Stamp said in the very first speech that Lindner had the trust of the North Rhine-Westphalian state association. The chairman of the second large regional association in Baden-Württemberg, Michael Theurer, also supported the party leader. The Secretary General of the Thuringian FDP Robert-Martin Montag apologized for the hussar ride of his regional association.
Meeting participants reported that Monday he was close to tears. Apology tour is Lindner too. Public self-criticism is actually not one of his strengths, but he was crystal clear in his press statement during the board meeting: “We are responsible for the situation in Thuringia and beyond for the debate in Germany,” he said. “And we also take responsibility for this situation.”
The decisions and events in Thuringia had “raised doubts in many people about the basic attitude of the FDP. We deeply regret these doubts about the fundamental orientation of our party. ”The FDP in the federal government and in Thuringia has always drawn a clear border to the AfD.
Lindner also apologized in an interview with “Bild am Sonntag”. The liberals had fallen into a “tactical trap” for the AfD, and he himself had underestimated the “unscrupulousness” of the right-wing populists. “We ask people for trust and excuse for a serious mistake,” he said.
This was also Lindner’s tone when he spoke into the microphones on Sunday at a closed conference of the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag. The exam was supposed to be about Germany as a business location, now it’s about Germany as a location for democracy. The events in Thuringia had damaged democracy in the Federal Republic and “seriously injured the soul of the FDP,” said Lindner. There will be a “wide debate” in the group.
More: The FDP chairman Lindner has the confidence of his party. With clear words about the Thuringia debacle, he also wants to regain the trust of voters.