Dhe chairman of the North Rhine-Westphalian FDP, Henning Höne, was confirmed in his office on Saturday at a party conference in Duisburg. The 37-year-old leader of the FDP parliamentary group in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia received around 75 percent, thus making good on his difficult first-term vote.

At the beginning of 2023, Höne was elected state chairman for the first time with only 54.4 percent of the vote. At that time, many delegates used the vote on the chairman as an outlet to vent frustration about the outcome of the 2022 state election. In May two years ago, the FDP in North Rhine-Westphalia fell to 5.9 percent and was voted out of government responsibility after just five years of the black-yellow coalition.

How difficult this is still for the party was also made clear in Höne's application speech on Saturday. Two years after the state elections, the FDP is missing as a driving force in the government. For the black-green coalition, which has been in power since summer 2022, silence is more important than solving problems. “North Rhine-Westphalia has never had a prime minister who had such small ambitions for the country and so big for himself,” said Höne, alluding to the fact that Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) is considered a candidate for chancellor.

The big challenges cannot be answered with small steps, but rather with the courage to change. “Black-green in the largest federal state radiates none of this. This government is unambitious and unimaginative.” The only thing that is worse in North Rhine-Westphalia than economic growth is the Green Economics Minister Mona Neubaur. “With the policies of the CDU and the Greens, North Rhine-Westphalia is becoming a museum of prosperity – and the Greens are giving away the tickets.”

The NRW-FDP is powerful in the federal government

With around 18,500 members, the North Rhine-Westphalian FDP is by far the largest regional association – from which the majority of Berlin's leadership comes, including Federal Chairman Christian Lindner, Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann and top candidate for the European elections Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann.

The largest state association of the FDP has often shown that it can fight, said Höne and recalls that shortly before the 2012 state elections, the party was only two percent in the polls when they also met in Duisburg for the state party conference. After that, within a few weeks, the tide was turned with the then top candidate, Christian Lindner. In fact, Lindner went on to achieve even greater things. When the FDP missed the five percent threshold in a federal election for the first time in its history in 2013, he rebuilt the party from North Rhine-Westphalia and led it back to the Bundestag in 2017.

A party close to the abyss

The FDP is currently again close to the abyss. Since the FDP embarked on the traffic light adventure alongside the SPD and the Greens at the end of 2021, the values ​​of all three parties have deteriorated significantly. But the FDP has felt the most severe consequences: it has since failed to re-enter several state parliaments, and pollsters see it at five percent at best in the federal government.

For the time being, the FDP is counting on the “economic turnaround” project announced by Lindner to act as a remedy against the traffic light blues. Höne also placed it at the center of his considerations and was not at a loss for big words. The Free Democrats are ready for a reform package that “dwarfs” the 2010 Agenda of former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Of course, the traffic light government no longer has too many arrows in its quiver, Höne pointed out.

Lindner distributes against coalition partners

Christian Lindner used his appearance in Duisburg for a combative speech. The federal chairman wants to profile the FDP as the driving economic liberal force of the traffic light. He also dealt harshly with his coalition partners. The Green Party parliamentary group warned Lindner not to block the reform of the climate protection law.

The climate protection law once introduced by the CDU is “deeply planned economy” and affects people’s freedom. If the Greens do not give up their blockade, “draconian restrictions on freedom” would be conceivable in Germany, including the driving bans on internal combustion engines first brought into play by Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), said Lindner. The Greens should not jeopardize acceptance of climate protection against “dramatic restrictions on freedom”. The SPD, in turn, has been involved in federal governments since 2014, Lindner shouted to the strong applause of the delegates. “Social democracy shares responsibility for the weak growth we have today.”

Failed to fetch data from the URL.