Status: 09.12.2023, 09:32 a.m.
By: Nail Akkoyun
FDP politician Matthias Nölke and his comrades-in-arms want to put an end to the traffic light coalition. A membership vote is intended to put pressure on the party leadership.
Berlin – When Matthias Nölke answers the phone on Thursday afternoon, the FDP politician has just arrived in Berlin. In the capital, he wants to hand in the collected signatures of party members who oppose the traffic light coalition and want to force an exit. However, Nölke cannot say whether the undertaking "End the traffic light!" will succeed. It will be exciting for him to see how many members will vote. A high number of votes against the coalition would put pressure on the FDP leadership.
Nölke, who was a member of the Bundestag until 2021, has recently frequently criticized the state of the coalition. But first, the Kassel district chairman is preparing for a continuation of the federal government: "I could live with remaining in the traffic light, then that's the decision. But then no one should be surprised if the election defeats continue." It would be a success for the project if 60 or 70 percent of the members took part "and more than half of them said: get out of the traffic light".
Matthias Nölke sat in the Bundestag for the FDP until October 2021. (Archive photo) © M. Popow/Imago
Initiative against traffic light coalition: It would take a lot of headwind within the FDP
However, the result is not binding anyway. If about 76,000 of the almost 50,000 members were to vote to break the coalition, "this could no longer be ignored by the party leadership in Berlin," says Nölke. Otherwise, "you would be signaling that you don't give a damn about the vote of the entire membership."
In the end, the initiators had handed over more than 600 signatures for their initiative in Berlin. It is expected that a nationwide opinion in the party will be obtained as early as January, if possible, says Nölke. First of all, the FDP federal executive committee decides on the further course of action. The project follows an open letter from 26 state and local politicians of the FDP, who had demanded that the FDP rethink its coalition partners after the poor election results in Hesse and Bavaria. The text of the question should read: "Should the FDP end the coalition with the SPD and the Greens as part of the federal government?" and be answered with "yes" or "no".
In the event of new elections, the FDP is even threatened with the end of the Bundestag
As unlikely as new elections seem at the moment, the initiators must also be aware that the FDP could even be kicked out of the Bundestag in this case – after all, the Liberals have recently fluctuated between four and six percent in polls. In the eyes of Matthias Nölke, however, this is a "bogeyman", he himself sees the situation differently: if one were to self-critically recognize that the cooperation with the traffic light "leads to a dead end" and that the coalition "is not good for our country", this would also be rewarded by the voters in the end.
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"In any case, this is feedback from people who have always voted for us and would not vote for us at the moment," says the Kassel native. So far, no one has been able to plausibly explain what they want to do better in the remaining legislative period. "What's going to happen?"
FDP politician criticizes party officials: "Is perceived as an insult to lèse-majesté"
In general, some of the grassroots are dissatisfied with the policies of the party leadership. The planned membership survey had been criticized above all by party functionaries in Hesse. "Especially when we weren't in the Bundestag, it was always said that we were now a 'participatory party'. But if the members want to participate, it is perceived as an insult to lèse-majesté by the same people who are now in office and dignity," says Nölke with a view to the last state party congress in Wetzlar, Hesse.
However, Nölke does not want a new party leadership. "I think Lindner is doing the maximum he can get out of it," says the 43-year-old. The dissatisfaction is based on the traffic light, to whose coalition agreement FDP leader Christian Lindner is "shackled". "It's like starting to button up a shirt the wrong way at the top. You can't solve it downwards," says Nölke. Now it is time to draw conclusions.
So it's better not to govern than to govern wrongly? A motto that, according to the FDP rebel, "was already true then and is just as relevant today". What is certain is that the party leadership must have a plan for the possible headwind from the grassroots, otherwise the FDP will have a major credibility problem – even before the next federal election. (nak)