Traditionally, the Epiphany on 6 January marks the start of the new political year for the German Liberals of FDP in Stuttgart. While the start of the year in 2017 was dominated by the German general election, this year FDP wanted to create the right atmosphere for the upcoming local elections in Schleswig-Holstein as well as for the state elections in Bavaria and Hesse.
Among the speakers, there were FDP leader Christian Lindner, Secretary General Nicola Beer, State Chairman Michael Theurer and FDP Baden-Württemberg leader Hans-Ulrich Rülke. They all emphasised that the way back to the political centre is not over yet and that behind the FDP, there is a new way of thinking and a new way to shape politics.
In his address to almost 1,400 people, Christian Lindner explained what German citizens can expect from FDP: "We are committed to the freedom of individuals and we protect the openness of society against opponents from left and right. In this tradition we stand. In this tradition we remain. These are the values of a liberal centre party."
Michael Theurer, former MEP and now FDP State Chairman, welcomed the participants and promised that the Free Democrats will "make sure every day that the Bundestag becomes what it should be: the heart chamber of a democracy." He also had some words for the critics of FDP's decision to not join Merkel's government: "The power of shaping can also come from the opposition. The FDP's parliamentary group is a troop of freedom fighters. Let us fight for the renewal of Germany, for the freedom for Europe."
Baden-Württemberg FDP leader Hans-Ulrich Rülke also defended FDP's decision: "Merkel and the Green politician Jürgen Trittin wanted o use the FDP for a black-green coalition. But the FDP is not for free, only if we can enforce our ideas. The new FDP is not about co-governing, but about shaping."
FDP Secretary General Nicola Beer believes that Germany needs a bolder policy and more willing to take decisions: "We as the FDP want to embody this courage, we want to provide the platform for a change of perspective in society. Politics is not an end in itself, we serve people in this country. In 2018, we should progress, we should keep in mind our values for an open and strong Europe. While others despair, let us move forward together. This is the new generation Germany. We need new thinking in this country."
Find out all the details about the meeting on the event's website.