Christian Lindner in Weimar: “In an emergency, you could still choose the left”

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EIt should be a long half hour before Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) gets the first question at the Citizens’ Dialogue in Weimar on a topic that concerns many people, not only in Thuringia: the success of the AfD. A 17-year-old wants to know whether he would sign that federal politics was to blame for the AfD success in the district elections in nearby Sonneberg last Sunday Victory for AfD politician Robert Stuhlmann referred to as a defeat in the runoff.

The question can only surprise Lindner in its clarity. Nevertheless, the FDP chairman initially avoids her. He contradicts the story that the dispute in the traffic light coalition is making the AfD strong, says Lindner at the fourth stop of his “dialogue tour”, the first in a city in eastern Germany. Conversely, if the traffic light dispute was responsible for this, it would mean that the AfD would not have become so strong without the dispute between the SPD, Greens and FDP.

At that moment you notice that Lindner has to sort himself out after the initial questions about reducing bureaucracy, tax simplification, start-up financing and investment backlog, which for him were rather harmless. The young man had not mentioned the word traffic light dispute, he was talking about federal politics in general. Lindner is now getting there on the second attempt.

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“A party like the AfD becomes strong when there is a feeling that politics is being made beyond what is economically, technically and physically possible.” That Lindner does not blame his own party for this feeling, but the Greens and the first draft of their heating law responsible, he does not have to mention it again.

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When it comes to immigration, it is the previous government that Lindner believes has done a lot wrong. “We made it difficult for those we urgently needed to come as programmers or geriatric nurses,” he says. And at the same time, Germany made it too easy for those who “immigrated irregularly just to benefit from our welfare state” to stay.

That is why it is so important that the gap in skilled workers is now closed by “controlled, qualified immigration”. The asylum compromise at European level is also a “paradigm shift” in this context, Lindner told the 120 listeners who came to the Weimar central bank on Monday evening, once the seat of the state credit institution of the Grand Duchy of Saxony.

He would rather deal with the “real problems”.

If Lindner has his way, one should basically talk less than more about the AfD. “I don’t want to constantly be outraged by that party, that only gives them energy.” He would rather deal with the “real problems”, as he says. The issue of migration is one. Another is identity issues. Nobody should have the feeling that there is only the “value cosmos of Berlin-Mitte”. Anyone who happens to live in the country, “still grills chops, drives a diesel station wagon and works in the assembly hall”, says Lindner, is not outside the “definition set of a modern citizen”.

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Georg Maier (SPD), 56, Minister of the Interior in Thuringia

Thuringia’s Interior Minister Maier

A woman asks whether the Federal Minister of Finance can even imagine what it would be like if, in view of the increased food prices and Mieten no longer knew how to feed a family of four. Lindner refers to the housing benefit reform, higher child benefit and tax relief through inflation adjustment. The traffic light government recently implemented all of this.

And then he makes an unusual suggestion: Anyone who is still dissatisfied with current politics for socio-political reasons does not have to vote for the AfD. “It hurts my soul to say it, but in an emergency you could still vote for the Left Party,” says Lindner. This is of course not a recommendation. It remains unclear how seriously he means his sentence. Another pithy sentence causes fewer doubts: “The greatest locational risk for eastern Germany is the AfD.” A further strengthening could mean that large international corporations with good jobs stay away.

No German patriot could deny climate change

The party is also playing the wrong game when it comes to climate and energy policy. AfD politicians liked to claim to be German patriots. “No one who is a German patriot and who is occasionally in the German forest can have the chutzpah to deny climate change,” says Lindner. In the forest, the change is obvious.

Of course, the path to climate protection would have to be fought over. “We will not make German climate protection a role model for the world if we achieve climate protection by losing individual and collective prosperity, restricting freedom, preaching renunciation; then nobody in the world will follow us.” There is applause again for this further tip against the Greens. It wasn’t excessive on this evening of dialogue.



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