The harder a party loses an election, the quieter it would like to continue afterwards.

This also applies to the FDP, which crashed in North Rhine-Westphalia at least with a clatter, if not thunder.

Only 5.9 percent of the votes remained, in the last state election there were more than twice as many.

Party leader Christian Lindner met this the next morning with radical acceptance, more precisely with the statement that the election result was a "reality" that his party accepted and accepted.

This is probably also because the disgrace is processed more quietly than with the SPD, which tried to drown out its defeat, which was also booming, on Sunday evening with all sorts of self-assurance formulas and declarations of government claims.

A “reflection phase” is to begin soon in the NRW-FDP

Lindner faces the challenge of having to appear thoughtful and undeterred at the same time.

On the one hand, he cannot return to the agenda after the heavy losses, on the other hand, the agenda is his trump card: The FDP governs in a federal government, and they want to prove themselves there more than ever.

So Lindner explained at the press conference on the outcome of the election on Monday morning that the NRW-FDP would soon start a “phase of reflection”, as befits the “party of personal responsibility”, accompanied by the federal party, which, however, currently has “no time and I have no space" to deal with myself, because she is fully occupied with overcoming "war and crisis": "The focus is now on the country."

It remained unclear to what extent the election result in North Rhine-Westphalia could also be an expression of how satisfied or dissatisfied the voters are with the federal government's war and crisis management.

Lindner admitted that federal political factors had an impact on the result.

It is striking that his party has lost disproportionately among older voters.

The reason for this was repeatedly stated at the Liberal campaign stands: Many older people are very dissatisfied with the flat-rate energy price, which relieves employees, but not pensioners.

But Lindner pointed out that it wasn't his party's idea at all.

Crushed in a head-to-head race?

He and the FDP's top candidate for North Rhine-Westphalia, Joachim Stamp, made it clear that they wanted to improve their party's communication.

Of course, this raises the question of how the FDP's communication has changed so massively since the election five years ago that it could explain the crash.

Stamp's observation that there had been problems mobilizing their own voters distracted from the fact that FDP voters had fled en masse: not only had 250,000 of them switched to the CDU, which could also be explained by the fact that they were their top candidates wanted to push in the supposed neck-and-neck race with the SPD candidate;

100,000 Liberal voters had also switched to the Greens.

Lindner and Stamp became clear when it came to forming a government: it boils down to black and green, Stamp said: Anyone who knows CDU Prime Minister Wüst and the North Rhine-Westphalia Greens knows that they are coming together.

He does not expect to talk to the Greens and SPD about a possible traffic light alliance.

Lindner emphasized that such an alliance would have no "internal legitimacy" in North Rhine-Westphalia.

At the traffic light in the federal government, three election winners had teamed up, in North Rhine-Westphalia it would be two losers and the Greens.

Lindner and Stamp initially thought it appropriate to view the election result as a kind of stroke of fate, a "sad occasion" for the "liberal family", which is now together, as Lindner put it.

But that won't be the end of it.

If the FDP wants to shine more visibly in traffic lights in the future, it will have to outperform its partners more often.