Friday, December 3

Elections in Germany: the liberals of the FDP will have to deal with the Greens

It was one of the key phrases of the evening to anticipate the weeks to come. During the traditional televised debate between party leaders, Christian Lindner, president of the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP), outlined the beginnings of a post-election strategy. “My proposal is that the Greens and the FDP, who have the biggest differences in substance, start talking together and look at where there can be similarities. “ This proposal sums up in a few words the stake opened by the election on Sunday, September 26: the future government in Berlin will depend above all on the ability of environmentalists and liberals to come to an agreement. The former only obtained 14.8% of the vote, the latter 11.5%, but they are essential in the partisan landscape of post-Merkel Germany. Unless there is a new grand coalition, the FDP and the Greens are the pivotal parties, whose points of agreement will give the real direction of the government to come.

For the Liberals, the agreement with the Greens is a priori against nature. The FDP is a party traditionally close to business circles, entrepreneurs and the self-employed. He militates for tax cuts and excludes any increase in the minimum wage or taxation of large fortunes. In terms of public finances, the Liberals are attached to the “debt brake”, which prohibits the federal state from any structural deficit greater than 0.35% of gross domestic product. To finance investments linked to digital technology and to the decarbonisation of the economy, the FDP wants to mobilize savings by appealing to the market, rather than resorting to public borrowing. At the European level, he defends the maintenance of the stability pact, that is to say the rules limiting the deficit and the indebtedness of the member states of the euro zone. So many points on which the Greens are in frontal opposition. Logically, the FDP favors a coalition with the conservatives, the Greens with the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

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Yet liberals also have one fundamental characteristic in common with environmentalists: they attract young people. The two formations are those which obtained the most votes among those which voted for the first time this Sunday and gained points thanks to the support of these voters. The two parties therefore have a dynamic of renewal. They plead for a break with the years of the grand coalition and for a modernization of the country. Above all, they embody a new generation of political leaders. Christian Lindner, born in 1979, is almost the same age as Annalena Baerbock, co-president of the Greens, who celebrated her 40th birthday in December 2020. These similarities are far from negligible in an aging Germany, where the least 50-year-olds represent only 40% of the electorate and often feel poorly represented by the major parties.

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