Top FDP lawmaker: ′Citrus′ talks likely to be fruitful | News | DW | 30.09.2021

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Top FDP lawmaker: 'Citrus' talks likely to be fruitful

The parliamentary deputy leader of Germany's neoliberal Free Democrats has said he thinks that the so-called "citrus coalition" talks with the Green Party are likely to be productive.

 Selfie picture of Volker Wissing and Christian Lindner (FDP), with Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck (Die Grünen)

FDP and Greens take selfie after the first preliminary explorations.

Speaking in a new post-election edition of DW's podcast "Merkel's Last Dance," the Free Democrats' (FDP) Bundestag deputy leader Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said the mood in his party was very positive.

"We are very excited. It looks rather likely that the future German governments will contain the Free Democrats here. And that is something that makes us very happy, obviously."

Colorful array of possibilities

A narrow win for the center-left Social Democrats over the conservative CDU/CSU union has given unprecedented leverage to the two smaller parties.

Listen to audio 53:41

What’s next after Germany’s election: The kingmakers’ moment (E12)

The teaming up of the FDP (yellow) and Greens — traditionally Germany's kingmaker parties — has been dubbed a "citrus coalition."

The different coalitions in Germany are popularly referred to by the colors of the parties involved. 

The SPD, which has red as its color, is seeking to build a so-called "traffic light" coalition with the FDP and the Greens.

A possible conservative-Green-FDP alliance would be dubbed a "Jamaica" coalition because their colors correspond to those of the Caribbean country's flag.

Lambsdorff told DW's Richard Walker that he is "optimistic" about the chances of putting together a three-way coalition involving the Greens.

He stressed that leaders such as FDP General Secretary Volker Wissing and Greens co-leader Robert Habeck both had experience of working in such coalitions at a state government level.

Alexander Lambsdorff

Alexander Lambsdorff said voters had given the two smaller parties a message — to talk

"Let's not forget one thing, Mr Habeck was a minister in a Jamaica coalition. He has experience in governing jointly with us. And Mr Wissing, our secretary-general, was the deputy prime minister of Rhineland-Palatinate in the south west of Germany, where he was governing in a 'traffic light' coalition, also with the Greens. And so there are two very experienced coalition builders there. And so I'm rather optimistic really."

Working to bridge a gap

Despite major differences between the Greens and the FDP, Lambsdorff said they must work together. "We've been told to by the voters. We are the political parties who have been mandated by our constitution to form governments and to shape the political agenda. That's what the Grundgesetz, our Basic Law, says what the parties have to do."

At the same time, he insisted the FDP was keeping options open on whether the SPD or CSU/CDU should lead the next government.

"Both options are on the table, the traffic light, and Jamaica."

Lambdsorff laid out his hopes for a reforming FDP-led finance ministry, particularly with a view to corporation tax. "Germany has not had an ambitious tax reform for about 20 years... We're not talking a radical Reaganite or Thatcherite overhaul, but we're talking about a reform that would make our tax code more competitive."

Private versus public investment

He also stressed that the FDP wanted climate investments to be led by the private sector rather than public money — a potential source of tension with the Greens, who want to boost public investment. 

"Public investment is not going to make Mercedes or BASF or Bayer or Linde climate neutral. They have to do that with private capital. We set the framework within which they move, but then they have to do it themselves, and that's what we need to incentivize."

Speaking on the geopolitical tensions with China, Lambsdorff said an FDP coalition would urge German firms to diversify from exposure to China. 

"What we will do is we will clearly advise the business community that is so exposed to the Chinese market, both for sourcing and for sales to diversify, to develop a new risk profile to open up new markets. Opening up new markets is crucial in that regard."

Watch video 03:02

Preliminary coalition talks in Germany: Maximilian Mordhorst (FDP) speaks to DW