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Coalition in turmoil: Will the FDP sabotage the traffic light? The refrain of a government politician reveals deep insights

There are FDP members who have been against the traffic light coalition from the start. Like Matthias Nölke, treasurer of the city of Kassel, initiator of the membership survey regarding the FDP’s continuation in the coalition. On Thursday, he handed over around 600 signatures to the FDP’s federal manager, Michael Zimmermann. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and “Spiegel” sent reporters, TV teams were on site.

There is a lot of attention for the man who organized the uprising in the FDP. According to reports, he revealed that another 100 to 200 signatures were stored in Kassel. Should the FDP base vote against remaining in the traffic light, it would be difficult for FDP leader and Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner to argue against it. Even though the survey results are not binding.

Rumors that the FDP wants to leave the coalition are increasingly circulating through political Berlin these days. The concern, especially in the SPD, about the FDP’s exit and the failure of the traffic light coalition is evident from trivialities.

The refrain of a government politician: If it goes rationally….

For example, a social democratic government politician repeatedly speaks of it not happening if it goes rationally. This also means: the irrational element that exists in politics is present. “If the traffic light fails, the danger for the FDP is greatest. It knows the experience of being in the extra-parliamentary opposition,” warns the SPD politician Ralf Stegner as a precaution.

For the SPD, a traffic light breakdown would be particularly painful. They lead the coalition and hold the chancellorship. It would also be a major failure for Olaf Scholz. Both in the SPD and the Greens, there is a certain incredulity about how far the FDP is going in its demands, how stubbornly it reacts to compromise proposals – at least publicly. It is the governing party that acts most ideologically strong.

“If the FDP obstructs itself, that’s their business”

Except for the saving slogan, the FDP does not present any proposals to solve the crisis. The SPD MP Robin Mesarosch told Tagesspiegel that he can only appeal to the FDP to “not cling to the debt brake.” He said: “If the FDP obstructs itself, that’s their business, but right now, they are obstructing the whole country.”

Some in the SPD, however, advocate understanding for Lindner. In light of the membership survey, it is understandable that Lindner cannot be required to approve, for example, tax increases.

And yet: A SPD delegate at the party congress in Berlin is terribly upset about Lindner indirectly questioning the 10-billion subsidy for the chip manufacturer Intel in an interview with “Wirtschaftswoche”. This would betray, sell, and deceive people.

More strategy than an exit option?

Alsothe Green Party considers Lindner’s remarks partly worrisome. However, they suspect less of an exit strategy behind it, but rather an attempt to find the best negotiation position. They therefore view the rumors of the FDP wanting to leave the coalition with a certain skepticism. None of them wants to comment publicly, but they observe that the conflict has shifted.

No longer primarily Lindner against Green Minister of Economic Affairs Robert Habeck, but Lindner against Scholz. It’s a small tactical shift. For the Greens, it’s not uncomfortable. Finally, they are not the ones in the center of the conflict.

And the FDP? It is said that Lindner has prepared the faction for painful compromises, even for the Liberals themselves. Even more conservative FDP members are internally advocating for remaining in the coalition. In an interview with the “Wirtschaftswoche,” he not only questioned the Intel billions. He also uttered another remarkable sentence.

When asked if the removal of tax privileges for him was an indirect tax increase, he said subsidies must “always be examined.” It sounds, after all, like flexibility.

By Felix Hackenbruch, Valerie Höhne, Daniel Friedrich Sturm

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