FDP pin revival hopes on...new flag
DPA/The Local · 6 Jan 2015, 13:23
Published: 06 Jan 2015 13:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Jan 2015 13:23 GMT+01:00
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Just 15 months ago the centre-right party were in government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.
But such was their wipeout in the 2013 elections, the pro-market party not only lost their seats around the Cabinet table, but even failed to elect a single MP to the Bundestag for the first time in their history - failing to clear the 5 percent hurdle.
Now party chiefs at the moribund party's meeting in Stuttgart are pinning their hopes on a new party image... to refresh their tired, traditional logo of blue on yellow.
Instead, party chairman Christian Linder unveiled their new look brand at the city's State Opera house on Tuesday.
It features a bold magenta dash - which Handelsblatt newspaper has already noticed closely resembles Deutsche Telekom's brand colour - and a new slogan. Out goes "The Liberals", and in comes "Free Democrats".
While socially-liberal, the FDP is Germany's most pro-business party, supporting privatisation, economic liberalisation, and lower taxes.
As well as losing all representation in the Bundestag in Berlin, the FDP lost its seats in the Saxony, Thurinigia and Brandenburg regional parliaments.
Deputy FDP chairman Wolfgang Kubicki admitted Tuesday: "For the party the situation has never been as serious as it is today. I can't remember a similarly difficult situation."
Industry spokesman Ulrich Grillo said: "The FDP are needed in parliament as the voice of business, you can see that."
The loss not just of power but actual seats represents a catastrophic fall from grace for a party which served in governments for much of its history since being founded in 1948. As a small centre-right party, it governed for longer than any other party, albeit as the junior coalition partner.
It served under the Social Democrats from 1969-82 and a string of CDU-CSU governments through the 1960s, 1980s and 1990s, most recently from 2009-13, with leader Guido Westerwelle serving as Chancellor Angela Merkel's Foreign Minister.
Around 1,000 delegates are attending the party conference in Stuttgart. The party's most pressing challenge is to re-enter the Hamburg state parliament, where elections will be held on February 15th.
The FDP is currently lagging at around just 2 percent in opinion polls, below the 5 percent threshold needed to gain seats, and facing a local split by members who have created a new party called the "New Liberals."
Lindner used his keynote address to attack the rapid rise of the anti-euro Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has eroded some of the FDP's centre-right support, criticizing their support for the anti-Islam Pegida demonstrations.
"The AfD is a party which longs for a time where you could hide behind national borders," he said.
The FDP is pinning its hopes on regaining the trust of top managers from the Federation of German Industry (BDI), which represent some 100,000 companies with eight million workers, and have signalled disappointment with the leftward trend of the current CDU-SPD governing coalition over measures such as the minimum wage and female quotas in executive boardrooms.