The federal election campaign begins cautiously on the Baltic Sea.

The mayor of the seaside resort Grömitz in Schleswig-Holstein, the FDP man Heinz Bäker, greets the passers-by, who have stopped in front of his microphone on the beach promenade, not as voters, but as holiday guests: “Thank you for being here”, says he, "and that you are loyal to us".

Johannes Leithäuser

Political correspondent in Berlin.

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Even the federal chairman of the Free Democrats, who immediately steps on the promenade, wants to keep the holiday mood first. He comes in a polo shirt. How nice that you can go back to the sea and enjoy the summer, says Christian Lindner. Then he turns away from the holiday bliss and starts talking about the pandemic. Lindner asserts that despite all the criticism, his party takes Covid seriously and considers it a serious disease. He is also double vaccinated and promotes vaccination. At the same time, however, he warns of a new economic standstill in autumn. There is a phase "where individual responsibility for health needs to be given more space again," says Lindner.

The FDP reproaches to the grand coalition, which determined the months before summer time, no longer appear in Lindner's promenade speech: that the restrictions in the Corona crisis are too rigid, too generalized and too inflexible. Instead, the FDP federal chairman has new lessons ready, which he has obviously drawn: The state, on which many would have relied so unhesitatingly, is apparently not working as well as expected. He lists the fax machines in the health authorities, including the missing sirens that could warn of lightning floods, the fragile infrastructure, “dead spots and potholes”, broken schools. He demands: The state must reflect on these core tasks instead of announcing new expenditures, be it for free basic income, as the Greens wanted, or higher maternal pensions,as they promise the CSU.

The FDP chairman did not try to supplement or relativize the image of the Free Democrats as a business party on this day. On the contrary: He emphasizes it even more: The FDP wants to be responsible “for the stable economic foundation” in Germany. Without this, social and ecological goals could not be achieved. The contrasts that Lindner seeks to illustrate his own points of view and attitudes, he continues to find especially with the Greens. They wanted to carry out the upcoming "big changes", the necessary ecological reconstruction - which the FDP also consider necessary - with bans and restrictions, with speed limits, a production stop for internal combustion engines and skepticism about the construction of single-family houses.As moral champions, the Germans could not be a role model in the fight against climate change. This can only succeed if drive and confidence determine the attitude towards greening the economy. 

Now and then Lindner gets applause for his remarks;

in Grömitz in the morning as well as at noon on the south beach on Fehmarn, where Lindner stands between the hotel skyscrapers and the audience - as evidenced by the license plates on the large parking lot - comes mainly from his home country North Rhine-Westphalia. 

Lindner ignores Jamaica

On the Fehmarner Strandplaza, his campaign show joins the holiday program, which announces an “Italian Night” in the evening and promises in the children's program: “The Baltic Casper is coming”. In the end, the FDP chairman himself slips into the role of a fortune teller: he now predicts that Annalena Baerbock will not become Federal Chancellor after the election, and neither will Olaf Scholz. The Chancellor is always from the strongest party, so it is almost certain that Armin Laschet will take over the office. The only open question is who the little partner will become. So the question is whether the finance minister will then be Robert Habeck or Christian Lindner.  

In the election campaign tactics of the Free Democrats, who have always postulated their independence since their rebirth in federal politics, a kind of loan-vote argument emerges again on quiet summer sandals. And by proclaiming the victory of the Union parties, Lindner ignores the option that the Bundestag election could possibly also result in a joint majority for the Greens, SPD and FDP. If you only want the votes of the liberals, but their ideas are not included in a government program, then that will not work, said Lindner. The FDP will be ready to compromise, but will not give up its convictions. So the appearances by the sea end in the middle of the election campaign. Lindner travels on.