The FDP wanted to use its first start of the year as a ruling party in the federal government to present itself as a profile-building force in the new traffic light coalition, but not to be co-opted for this partnership.

The FDP chairman, Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner, claimed for his party that it stood for the policy of “a center ready to leave”.

Looking at the CDU, he said his hopes rested on the new chairman Friedrich Merz.

The question will be whether the CDU wants to hold up to the FDP every compromise in its government work or whether "a real future talk is possible" with it despite its role in the opposition.

Lindner asserted that the FDP had "no interest in moving away from the CDU / CSU, on the contrary".

Lindner: General Secretary stands for the breadth of the FDP

At the three-king meeting of the party, which took place without spectators on the Stuttgart State Theater stage and was broadcast on the Internet, he looked at the upcoming four state elections this year in Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony and said the CDU was the same there like the SPD and the Greens, a competitor, but at the same time also a potential political partner.

The new FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai, who had just been appointed by him and who had to be confirmed in office by a federal party congress in April, was mandated by Lindner to help ensure “that the FDP remains recognizable in a changed political landscape”.

Regarding the origins of Djir-Sarai, who was born in Tehran, the FDP chairman said he was proud that the new general secretary brought another personality to a top position “who represents the breadth of the FDP”.

Djir-Sarai also discussed childhood experiences in Iran after the Islamic revolution.

He said he had witnessed the coup and "unfortunately also saw blatant human rights violations," and added: "Nobody has to explain to me what freedom means."

Regarding his future role, he said that as general secretary he wanted to take care of the modernization of the party as well as serving "the attack department".

As part of a government coalition, the FDP now has a different role than it did during the opposition, but he did not want to be “an additional government spokesman”.

Djir-Sarai announced that he also wanted to advance the programmatic development of the party and jointly develop a “model 2030” for the FDP.

"Most successful booster campaign in Europe"

With a view to combating the corona pandemic, party chairman Lindner claimed on behalf of the new federal government that it had "shaped a new crisis strategy" in the few weeks of its government responsibility. She got along with “moderate contact restrictions”, installed a new crisis team and initiated “the most successful booster campaign in Europe”. To combat the Omikron variant of the coronavirus, further "moderate restrictions" may now be necessary.

Lindner said that the protection of health is a great constitutional good, but freedom remains the highest good. It is "only natural and understandable" that different attitudes towards a general vaccination requirement existed within a liberal party. It is therefore correct that the decision on this should be made in the Bundestag on the basis of an individual conscience decision of each member. This could make a contribution to the reconciliation of society.

Lindner himself did not specifically advertise a general compulsory vaccination; The leading FDP politicians in Baden-Württemberg, Michael Theurer and Hans-Ulrich Rülke, clearly showed their skepticism. Theurer said he was skeptical as to whether a general vaccination requirement could be fined in the event of refusal. Perhaps it makes more sense to ask those who have not been vaccinated to have a mandatory consultation. Rülke said that before a mandatory vaccination is decided, it must first be clarified how it can be achieved.

In his Epiphany speech, party chairman Lindner also emphasized the FDP's claim to reform migration policy and the fight against climate change.

He renewed the plea for more open rules for those who, as refugees without secure status, have prospects on the labor market, and at the same time called for more possibilities for repatriation for "those who have no place".

There must now be "viable return agreements that work in practice" with third countries.

Lindner said that the coalition agreement provided for the appointment of a special representative and that this position should now be filled quickly.

Social advancement should play a bigger role again

The image of the FDP as a party of social advancement should, according to the will of its chairman, have a stronger effect again.

Lindner said that when he became FDP general secretary 12 years ago, he made this the focus of his first appearance at the Epiphany.

As before, “heart and passion” of the FDP applies to those “who still want to set off”;

these are "the beginners, the newcomers, the outsiders, the start-ups".

In terms of climate protection policy, too, Lindner claimed that the FDP had changed its perspective.

Climate protection has changed from a “niche topic” to a “prosperity and growth topic”.

A “speed limit or small-scale bans” would no longer be the focus of attention, but “the level of technological and financial ambitions in terms of climate protection”.