Christian Wolfgang Lindner, born in 1979, from Wuppertal (in North Rhine-Westphalia), the leader of the FDP from December 2013, is now the undisputed icon of the new German liberals. He led the party to reconquering its place in the Bundestag (from which it had been “expelled” five years ago), doing away with the line of the old leaders.
Holding the cards in the negotiations with the Greens, the CDU and CSU, he abandoned the talks for the establishment of the fourth Merkel government on Sunday night. It was a shock, but one hinted at in advance: Lindner had made public his ultimatum on Saturday morning: “a solution until 13:00 tomorrow or the whole deal is off.” And so it was, despite the efforts to extend the negotiations until after midnight, and Mutti Merkel’s final offers.
The failure of the Jamaica coalition negotiations has hurt the FDP, the liberal leader summed up, although, he added, “there are positive points on this difficult day.” The first is that “now, the Liberals have their hands free,” although so far it’s not clear what they’re going to do.
Lindner was thrust into the spotlight for the first time in 2011, when, as a member of parliament, he proposed the reduction to 18 months of the period of receiving unemployment benefits for older workers. A staunch pro-European, he has always been in favor of investments in transport (which is to say, money for German automakers), but has opposed the passage to electric vehicles requested by the Greens. Since October 2016, he has held that “a sudden ban on gasoline and diesel engines would be economically harmful, of questionable effect for the environment, and impossible to achieve.”