It will be interesting to see if the FDP (Free Democratic Party) can pull off a national comeback in the German elections later this year. The FDP has played an important role in Germany for the entire postwar era, often governing in coalition with the CDU Christian Democats. But it failed to meet the 5% hurdle in 2013 and since then has been trying to rebuild and regain political relevance. It does have representation in 8 state assemblies, but has been completely shut out of eastern states, where the far right AfD (Alternative for Germany) has rapidly become a major political force. But the rise of the AfD might actually provide an opening for the FDP. The AfD started out as a economically conservative group that wanted to bring back the Deutsche Mark and roll back Germany's obligations to the EU in Brussels. But it has morphed into an anti-immigrant white nationalist party - a German version of the Trump movement. Meanwhile the CDU and Social Democrats (SPD) have become nearly indistinguishable, so there is once again room for the classically liberal FDP to gain ground. Most entrepreneurs, corporate executives and affluent professionals are appalled by the völkisch rhetoric of the AfD and the Left Party and see a place for a strong advocate of free markets to preserve Germany's position as the world's leading exporting nation. What is needed is a "liberal nationalism:"
According to Josef Janning, German politics analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, in a country where the AfD is making inroads, the FDP needs to marry its traditional liberalism with a kind of nationalism. "There is a strong tradition in Germany of national liberalism," he told DW. "A liberal attitude critical of the state, which is at the same time rather national in its outlook."This laissez-faire nationalism was the model that the FDP adopted in the 1960s under then-leader Erich Mende. "This could be something that could appeal today," said Janning. "And I think the Lindner liberals are trying this out."
"Lindner liberals" refers to the party leader Christian Lindner, an articulate spokesman for the FDP's liberal policies. In this interview Lindner talks about the party's chances for an electoral comeback in 2017. I especially like how he defines German citizenship here and takes strong exception to the Blut und Boden concept of national identity put forward by the AfD: