The liberal party represents an ideological mixture of individual liberty and support for the free market and globalization. The party was founded in 1949 after the post WW2 division of Germany. The Liberals participated in coalition with both the CDU and the SPD, as a centrist party in the German political system. During the Helmut Kohl coalition Liberals shaped German foreign policy significantly. They were promoters of strengthening German’s role in world politics; for instance campaigning for a German seat on the UN Security Council. On the domestic level, the party supports extensive market liberalisation and individual liberty. Contrary to another liberal formation, the Greens, the party strongly encourages personal responsibility. In the 2013 general election, the party did not pass the 5 % threshold for representation in parliament; however, in the 2009 general election it reached its best ever election result, with 15 % of the vote.
Election manifesto 2005
The election manifesto reflects the changing integration policy of Germany. However, the Liberals supported immigration in previous election manifestos as well. The core message of the manifesto is to encourage immigrants to participate fully in their social integration and rejects any parallel societies. Therefore, all new incoming immigrants should be obliged to attend integration courses and to improve their German language skills. The manifesto ensures that there are conditions for German society as well; it must be open, tolerant, and pluralist. The FDP strongly supports the dominant position of individual freedom over the state. The manifesto proposes, for instance, restriction of trade union rights. Values such as tolerance or solidarity cannot be regulated by state institutions: the adoption of these values must be voluntary and individual. However, German culture and cultural heritage have a key role in shaping German identity and should be perceived collectively.
European policy consists of two streams. The manifesto supports European integration and proposes VAT harmonisation at the EU level. On the other hand, the party supports a referendum on the Constitutional Treaty and clear regulation of EU norms. There must be a kind of modus operandi that every EU regulation must be followed by abolition of the same regulation at the national level. The manifesto claims that Germany pays too much into the common budget; therefore the payments should be renegotiated. Similarly to the CDU, the political success of the EU is perceived as being just as significant as its economic success. It means that the EU should be enlarged into the Balkans and even as far as Turkey. The foreign policy reflects the party’s emphasis on strengthening Germany's role in international politics; an EU or German permanent seat in the UN Security Council should be negotiated.
Election manifesto 2009
The European and foreign policy positions follow the previous manifesto. However, in the interim the party changed its perception of tax harmonisation, now seeing it in a negative light. On the national level, the Liberals support implementation of EU regulations if the European ones are more effective. European integration is still perceived as a historical success that should be reflected in EU foreign policy. Therefore, the EU should be granted a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Due to the fact that Barack Obama had started his presidentship at that time, the party called for starting a new partnership with the US. The rights of homosexual partnerships should be strengthened in the human rights foreign policy. Generally, the influence of Germany and German culture should increase in international politics and the party even supports limited participation of the army in international conflicts. The army could be used in UN-approved missions such as the mission in Afghanistan.
The policy regarding the integration of immigrants closely followed that of the previous manifesto. Successful integration must be based on cooperation between state authorities and immigrants. Therefore, immigrants should be able to communicate in German. In this respect, the legal obstructions for employing immigrants have to be reduced. They should be gained voting rights after 5 years of permanent residence in Germany. The legal status of other religions should be equal to Christianity, but only if the religion in question does not oppose the values of Western civilisation. Therefore, religious fundamentalism cannot be accepted. The manifesto mentions that Islamism rejects Western values. Focusing on children, the schools are, as the manifesto understands, a suitable environment for values-based education. Surprisingly, the manifesto mentions that national monuments should be encouraged to transmit a cultural and historical message.
Election manifesto 2013
The party’s fluctuating European policy is apparent in this manifesto. European integration is no longer perceived in general terms but the party rather affirms a deep commitment to supranational integration. The FDP supports expanding the competences of EU institutions as well as closer identification of citizens with the EU. The European Parliament should get legislative competence and the European Council should be constituted as a second chamber of institutional architecture. The role of the ECB should be purely independent, in this way closer reflecting the role of the German national bank. Although the party strongly supports an independent EU foreign policy, German influence in international politics should increase as well, for instance by means of greater support for the German language abroad. In both European as well as German foreign policy there should be a strong human rights commitment. Although the FDP supports NATO, the EU should continue in setting up common military forces.
Germany remains an open state for immigrants but the conditions for their integration should be simplified. For example, immigrants should have the possibility to work immediately after their “registration” in Germany. Any kind of discrimination is impropriate and diversity is seen as bringing many advantages, such as tolerance. To support the coexistence of minorities, the state should cultivate the varieties of coexistence; for instance by supporting the Diversity Strategy. Muslims are part of German society and culture and therefore German speaking Imams should be supported. One of the core elements of the successful integration in acceptance of republican values; in this case there is a shift from Western to republican values. Liberals note that immigrants have to be encouraged to apply for employment in state administration.