Berlin Langenhorn is a tranquil residential area on the northern outskirts of Hamburg. Family houses, lots of nature. Only the noise from the nearby airport disturbs the calm. Young families live here, but so do many seniors.
On the evening of the Hamburg state election, the district reported an astonishing result: While the FDP worried about re-entry into the city due to poor results in the rest of the city, 22.4 percent are said to have voted for the party. Langenhorn, a liberal enclave?
On Monday, the suspicion was confirmed that it was a counting error. The district returning officer explained that the results of the FDP and the Greens had been confused in Langenhorn. For the liberals, who were only a few votes above the five percent hurdle, that could mean that they are flying out of the citizenship. The end result was not clear until the editorial deadline. For the overall situation of the FDP, it is irrelevant whether you are in Hamburg or outside.
Since the FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich was elected Prime Minister of Thuringia three weeks ago with AfD votes, the liberals have been in crisis mode. The party also presents the events of Erfurt as the main reason for the poor performance in Hamburg.
The hapless FDP top candidate Anna von Treuenfels spoke of a loss of trust among the citizens: “It was very, very difficult for us to catch up in a short time.” Choice.
FDP must readjust
The party committees of the FDP advised in Berlin on Monday. Christian Lindner appeared before the press between the meeting of the Presidium and the Federal Executive Committee. The federal chairman also referred to a Thuringian effect that “trust must only grow again”. In a remarkable clarity, Lindner also admitted that the FDP had to readjust its content.
The political location that he invoked is the “middle”. There have been doubts about the position of the liberals in the party structure, doubts that political competition also uses. After the “taboo breach” in Thuringia, the FDP was no longer a middle party, said SPD general secretary Lars Klingbeil.
Lindner vehemently rejects proximity to right-wing populists. He complains of “attempts from the left” to “redefine” the political center and to exclude the FDP and the CDU. In Thuringia, there was no shift in the position of the FDP, but the AfD was trapped, trying to create chaos in the parliamentary system. Lindner made it clear that there had been no resolution at the FDP. But: “Maybe one has to speak of negligence.”
The Liberals are in their worst crisis since 2013, when they failed to make it into the Bundestag for the first time in the history of the Federal Republic. At that time the situation of the party was even more precarious, but the risks are still great today.
Lindner led the FDP back to the federal political stage. The messages with which the party presented itself were “world’s best education for everyone”, “progress through your own efforts” or an “uncomplicated state”.
In the seventh year under Lindner, however, there are noticeable signs of wear that will be addressed more openly by the party after Thuringia. One does not want to debate possible signs of wear and tear, not yet.
Lindner said on Monday that the FDP did not have to change its positioning fundamentally. Nevertheless, realignments are necessary: ”Where have social conditions changed, where do we have to change?”
The FDP chief announced that he would step up work on a newly formulated mission statement for the party. Ecological issues would be more important than five years ago. Many voters are also concerned with securing wealth and a free lifestyle. Then there is the question of how society can be held together in times of increasing polarization.
The goal is an “update of our political model” for the Federal Party Congress 2021, said Lindner. The FDP has it in its own hands “how we deal with this challenging situation”. The party leader cited membership development as proof that the liberals are not doing so badly. Overall, this has been positive since the beginning of the year. And even after Erfurt there is “relative stability” with almost 66,000 members.
More: The Liberal election evening begins with a breakdown and ends uncertainly. For the FDP, the evening turns into a tremor. Impressions from the election party.