Free Voters (Party)

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Free voters
Free Voters logo
Hubert Aiwanger
party leader Hubert Aiwanger
vice-chairman Manfred Petry
Gabi Schmidt
Gregor Voht
Engin Eroglu
Denise Wendt
Federal Managing Director Arnold Hansen
Federal Treasurer Christa Hudyma
founding January 24, 2009
place of incorporation Wuerzburg
Headquarters Mühlenstrasse 13
27777 Ganderkesee
youth organization Young Free Voters (JFW)
alignment Value Conservatism
Bourgeois Liberalism
Direct Democracy
Colours) blue, orange
Bundestag seats
seats in state legislatures
Government grants 1,995,649.09 euros (2020)
number of members 5,682 (12/31/2019)
minimum age 14 years
European party European Democratic Party (EDP)
EP Group Renew Europe (RE)
Countries where the Free Voters are in the state parliament
  • represented as an opposition party in the state parliament
  • involved as a small coalition partner in the state government
  • as a major coalition partner in the state government and provides the head of government
  • Free Voters (own spelling: FREIE WÄHLER) is a political party in Germany . To distinguish it from other organizations of the same name, it is also referred to as the Federal Association of Free Voters .

    The federal association was founded in February 2010. It emerged from the middle of the Federal Association of Free Voters , an umbrella organization of municipal voter groups , and is closely interlinked with it in terms of personnel. Their orientation is described as liberal - conservative , centrist and value-conservative , with a focus on the expansion of local self-government and an orientation on factual political issues, independent of ideological interests, is sought.

    The Free Voters have been represented in the Bavarian state parliament since 2008 and in the Rhineland-Palatinate state parliament since 2021 . The Free Voters have been part of the Bavarian state government since 2018 and have appointed Hubert Aiwanger , who is also the federal chairman, as the Deputy Prime Minister of Bavaria . The party has been represented nationally in the European Parliament since 2014 . Your MEPs Ulrike Müller and Engin Eroglu belong to the Renew Europe parliamentary group . At the European level, the Free Voters are members of the European Democratic Party (EDP).

    BVB/Freie Wahler , which is represented in the Brandenburg state parliament , does not belong to the Freie Wahler party, but cooperates with it. The party says it has around 5,700 members (as of December 2019).

    Content profile

    municipal autonomy

    Among other things, the party wants strengthen local self-government . One of the reasons given for running for elections at state and federal level is that state and federal politics "erodes" the autonomy of the municipalities . The party, on the other hand, is in favor of municipalities having their own financial sovereignty. At European level, the party is demanding that the European Committee of the Regions should be given a permanent seat in Parliament.

    economic and financial policy

    The party fears that the European Union will develop into a "debt union" or "inflation union". The previous euro policy had failed. At the same time, Free Voters call for a deepening of the EU only with a fundamental democratization in the sense of citizens' interests - "no Europe of bureaucrats, but a Europe of the citizens".

    The party also calls for the promotion of regional economic cycles. A sustainable budgetary policy is sought. Banking supervision is to be tightened. Renewable and environmentally friendly technologies should be promoted. Rural areas are to be strengthened by so-called infrastructure measures.

    More viewpoints

    Direct democracy, party
    state The party campaigned for citizen participation and referendums at federal level. The Federal President and Prime Minister are to be elected directly. The Free Voters see the current party democracy critically. In the party's view, the influence of the parties should be limited. The influence of lobby groups should also be curbed. The Free Voters reject rigid lists in elections.

    The party calls for the framework competence for the education system to be transferred to the federal level.

    policy The Free Voters support an immigration policy based on the Canadian model . They demand that family reunification for asylum seekers be limited and they want to create return assistance. Anchor centers and the Bavarian State Office for Asylum reject them. At the same time, the party is demanding more benefits in kind rather than cash and is in favor of cutting benefits for refugees who do not integrate.

    Domestic policy
    They also call for consistent action against organized crime and “exhaustion of the penal framework”. Police and judiciary are to be strengthened and modernized in terms of personnel.

    drug policy

    The Free Voters are open to legalizing cannabis. The party also proposes a drug driver's license, which can be used to buy cannabis, for example.


    In the 1950s, the first state associations of local free voter groups emerged. The Federal Association of Free Voters was founded in 1965. Over the years, individual state associations have repeatedly contested state elections without much success.

    In the 1998 state elections , the Free Voters of Bavaria decided to stand as a candidate. Running in the state elections was controversial internally and was rejected by some district associations. The Free Voters, according to the criticism, would thereby leave their actual municipal field of activity. According to the party law, they would also acquire the character of a party by participating in the state elections. The organized voter group Freie Wahler Bayern e. V. (FW voters' group) founded. At the first election, she immediately reached 3.7%. In 2003 it improved slightly to 4.0%.

    Other state associations also competed in state elections during this period with varying degrees of success. In 2001 , for example, the Free Voters' Group of Rhineland-Palatinate achieved 2.6%, but in 2006 it achieved a worse result with 1.6%. The Free Voters of Thuringia came to 2.6% in 2004, the Free Voters of Hesse to 0.9% in 2008 and the Free Voters of Lower Saxony to 0.5% in 2008.

    Entry into the Bavarian state parliament and first European elections

    Finally, in the Bavarian state elections in 2008 , the Free Voters won 10.2% of the seats in the state parliament, where they form the third largest fraction. In the state elections on September 15, 2013, FREIE WÄHLER were the first new group to gain seats in the Bavarian state parliament in over 30 years, where they are again the third strongest party with 9%.

    After the success of the Bavarian Free Voters in the 2008 state elections, the Federal Association of Free Voters decided to compete nationwide for the elections to the European Parliament on June 7, 2009 . The decision was controversial within the federal association, the state association of Baden-Württemberg even resigned from the federal association as a result of the decision. On January 24, 2009, the federal electoral group Freie Wahler was founded in Würzburg for the candidacy. The top candidate was Gabriele Pauli . The Free Voters received 442,579 votes, which was 1.7% of the valid votes. This made Freie Wahler the most successful grouping of those parties that remained below the 5 percent hurdle.

    On February 20, 2010, this federal voter group was transferred to the Federal Association of FREIE WÄHLER . The national association is closely interlinked with the national association in terms of personnel. The federal chairman is Hubert Aiwanger, who is also chairman of the federal association, the Bavarian state association, the Bavarian voter group and chairman of the parliamentary group of the free voters in the Bavarian state parliament. Based on the results of the European elections in Germany in 2009 , the Federal Association of Free Voters has been entitled to state party funding since 2009; for 2010, an amount of EUR 79,850.41 was set.

    On May 8, 2010, the State Association of Free Voters Rhineland-Palatinate, the first state branch of the Federal Association of Free Voters, was founded in Mainz. By April 2013, state associations had been founded in all 16 federal states, some of which ran for state elections. Some of the foundations were organized by the relevant state associations, but some of them took place against the resistance of the relevant state association. In Baden-Württemberg and Saarland, the state associations even brought naming lawsuits against the relevant state associations, but were defeated in court.

    Elections 2013

    At the beginning of October 2011, Freie Wahler Bayern decided to stand in the 2013 federal elections. Shortly thereafter, the Federal Association of Free Voters also decided to stand in future federal elections. For this purpose, the Federal Association finally merged with the previous Bavarian voter group, the Hessian voter group and the Free Voters Schleswig-Holstein party. Due to the merger with the Bavarian voter group, the Federal Association of Free Voters does not have to collect any supporting signatures for federal elections or all state parliament and other elections (may differ from state to state), since the voter group is represented in the state parliament and is recognized as “established” by the federal returning officer .

    In July 2012, the party appeared for the first time in the nationwide surveys of the major opinion research institutes. YouGov and GMS predicted two percent of the vote for the party.

    In 2012, the federal association worked together with Wahlalternative 2013 , which was founded by CDU circles . In the state elections in Lower Saxony in 2013 , Bernd Lucke from Wahlalternative was one of the candidates on the list of free voters. The election was disappointing with a result of 1.1% for the party. As a result, the cooperation was terminated by the Wahlalternative 2013. Three state chairmen switched to the Alternative for Germany party , which had been founded by Wahlalternative. In addition, the Saarland state board resigned as a whole.

    The party ran for the first time in the Bundestag elections on September 22, 2013 and achieved 1%. The lawyer and financial economist Stephan Werhahn, a grandson of Konrad Adenauer , was nominated by acclamation as the designated top candidate . Werhahn, born in 1953, left the CDU after 40 years of membership due to its euro rescue policy. On March 27, 2013, Werhahn announced that he wanted to return to the CDU because he "can no longer support the current developments in the party [Free Voters] with a clear conscience".

    Before the approval deadlines, the party had founded state associations in all the missing federal states or merged with existing associations and occupied the executive boards again, in which gaps had been left by conversions to the AfD . After the withdrawal of Stephan Werhahn, a nationwide "top candidate" was dispensed with. State lists were drawn up in all 16 federal states, all of which were approved by the federal electoral committee on August 1, 2013. Otherwise, 9 (plus the Union with two parties) of the 39 admitted parties succeeded, of which 30 ultimately competed with at least one state list.

    Entry into the European Parliament

    At the federal members' meeting in Erfurt on January 12, 2014, Ulrike Müller , member of the Bavarian state parliament, became the top candidate for the European elections on May 25, 2014. On February 28, 2014, Müller and the deputy federal chairwoman Gabi Schmidt were elected in Brussels as individual members of the European Democratic Party ( EDP) included.

    After her successful election, Müller announced the cooperation between the FW and the EDP. The Free Voters became a member of this association on October 22, 2015.

    In December 2014, Müller became Vice-President and in November 2019 Executive Vice-President of the European Democratic Party.

    In her first mandate from 2014 to 2019, Ulrike Müller joined the ALDE parliamentary group. Since her re-election in May 2019, she has been the spokeswoman on agricultural policy in the Renew Europe group (successor to the ALDE group).

    In May 2017, MP Arne Gericke , who was elected for the Family Party , indicated that he would leave his party and join the Free Voters. In October 2018 he left the Free Voters again and switched to Bündnis C.

    Government participation in Bavaria from 2018 and subsequent state elections

    In the Bavarian state elections in 2018 , the Free Voters again gained a share of the vote. As a result, they formed a coalition government with the CSU for the first time. The federal chairman Aiwanger became deputy prime minister.

    In the Hessian state election two weeks later, the party achieved its best result in a state election outside of Bavaria with 3.0%. On November 13, 2018, the FW-Landesvereinigung Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Bürger für Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (BMV), a spin-off from the AfD, announced their intention to merge. Three of the four members of the BMV state parliament joined the Free Voters. The previous BMV parliamentary group was renamed Freie Wahler/BMV. At the end of September 2019, however, the members of the state parliament resigned after disputes with the state chairman Graf von Westarp, and the parliamentary group dissolved.

    In the state elections in Saxony in 2019 , the Free Voters again achieved a new best result in a state election outside of Bavaria with 3.4%. In the state elections in Brandenburg on the same day, the friendly BVB/Freie Wahler entered the state parliament for the first time as a faction. In the state elections in Thuringia in October 2019 , however, the party only ran with direct candidates after missing the deadline for submitting the state list. At the end of 2019, the member of the state parliament of Saxony-Anhalt Jens Diederichs joined the Free Voters. Diederichs, who had been elected for the AfD and joined the CDU parliamentary group in 2017 as an independent, became chairman of the newly founded Mansfeld-Südharz district association . In the state elections in Rhineland-Palatinate in 2021 , the Free Voters achieved 5.4% of the valid votes and entered the state parliament for the first time with six seats.

    national associations


    national association Incorporation/Joining Chair
    as of November 2018
    Results of the last
    state election
    Federal election
    European elections
    Germany location of Baden-Württemberg.svg Baden-Wuerttemberg May 21, 2010 Klaus Wirthwein 350 (2021) 03.0% ( 2021 ) 1.7% 3.2%
    Germany location of Bavaria.svg Bavaria Founded: 1998
    Joined: December 15, 2011
    Hubert Aiwanger 3500 (2018) 11.6% ( 2018 ) 7.5% 5.3%
    Germany location of Berlin.png Berlin December 13, 2010 Tobias Bauer 200 (2021) 00.8% ( 2021 ) 0.9% 0.5%
    Germany location of Brandenburg.svg Brandenburg May 19, 2011 George Arnold 31 (2013) well ( 2019 ) 2.6% 2.2%
    Germany location of Bremen.svg Bremen October 17, 2018 Catherine Büntjen 40 (2019) 01.0% ( 2019 ) 0.9% 0.6%
    Germany location of Hamburg.svg Hamburg October 30, 2010 Daniel Meincke 47 (2020) 00.6% ( 2020 ) 0.6% 0.4%
    Germany location of Hesse.svg Hesse Founded: November 4, 2006
    Joined: 2012
    Engin Eroglu 475 (2018) 03.0% ( 2018 ) 1.7% 1.7%
    Germany location of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.svg Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania June 19, 2010 Gustav Graf von Westarp 100 (2021) 01.1% ( 2021 ) 1.4% 1.4%
    Germany location of Lower Saxony.svg Lower Saxony June 5, 2010 Arnold Hansen 267 (2013) 00.4% ( 2017 ) 0.8% 0.6%
    Germany location of North Rhine-Westphalia.svg North Rhine-Westphalia September 10, 2011 Markus Krafczyk 165 (2017) 00.4% ( 2017 ) 0.7% 0.6%
    Germany location of Rhineland-Palatinate.svg Rhineland-Palatinate May 8, 2010 Stephen Wefelscheid 400 (2021) 05.4% ( 2021 ) 3.6% 2.9%
    Germany location of Saarland.svg Saarland August 26, 2011 Uwe Andreas Kammer 31 (2017) 00.4% ( 2017 ) 2.0% 1.1%
    Germany location of Saxony.svg Saxony June 18, 2011 Thomas Weidinger 116 (2019) 03.4% ( 2019 ) 2.3% 2.9%
    Germany location of Saxony-Anhalt.svg Saxony-Anhalt June 12, 2010 Andrea Menke 270 (2021) 03.1% ( 2021 ) 1.9% 1.7%
    Germany location of Schleswig-Holstein.svg Schleswig Holstein Founded: September 21, 2008
    Joined: January 1, 2012
    Gregory Voht 90 (2017) 00.6% ( 2017 ) 1.0% 0.9%
    Germany location of Thuringia.svg Thuringia Founded: March 6, 2004
    Joined: June 30, 2013
    Norbert Hein ? well ( 2019 ) 2.1% 2.4%
    Represented in Parliament
    Represented in government


    The State Association of Free Voters Baden-Württemberg was founded on May 21, 2010 in Rottweil . Originally she wanted to stand in the state elections in Baden-Württemberg in 2011 , but this plan was rejected by a majority at a general meeting. It is anchored in its statutes that it will not create any municipal subdivisions in order not to compete with the previous organization of the state association of free voters , which rejects the party construct of federal association and state association. Therefore, he defends himself against the national association under trademark law. This was decided negatively on November 10, 2010, since the state association, as a subdivision of the Federal Association of Free Voters , was obliged under party law to use the name components Free Voters and Baden-Württemberg . According to the presiding judge, both associations must accept the risk of confusion.


    The citizens' alliance of free voters e. V. was founded in 1993 by members of the people's movements at the time of reunification , including the New Forum , who had not joined the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen coalition ; prominent founding member was u. a. the later Brandenburg Prime Minister Matthias Platzeck . In 2009 the name was changed to Landesverband Freie Wahler Brandenburg e. V. After a lawsuit by the State Association of Free Voters , the association was forbidden by a court to use this name. On May 19, 2011, the Free Voters Association of Brandenburg was founded in Potsdam from the Citizens' Alliance of Free Voters.

    In state elections, the state association waives its candidacy in favor of the independent Brandenburg United Citizens' Movements/Free Voters . Both associations cooperate closely. For example, BVB supported the candidacy of the federal association in the 2017 Bundestag elections in Brandenburg and in the 2017 election of the German Federal President , the candidate of the Free Voters, Alexander Hold .


    The state association in Hamburg was founded on October 30, 2010 and took part in the 2011 citizenship and district assembly elections as well as in the 2013 federal election. With the dissolution of the FW Freie Wahler Hamburg e. V. , his assets passed to the state association.


    On August 26, 2011, the Free Voters State Association of Saarland was founded as a state association of the Federal Association of Free Voters. There was resistance from the local associations of free voters , since municipal successes had been achieved "without any party membership".

    The Free Voters Saarland party was founded on August 18, 2011 from the Free Voters Sulzbach . The party and the state association then fought a legal dispute over the brand name “Freie Wahler”. In the run-up to the state elections in Saarland in 2012 , there were also tensions between the state association and the state association. In the meantime, the executive boards of the state association and state association have the same people.

    In the 2017 state elections , the Free Voters took part across the board and achieved 0.4% of the second votes, less than half as many as five years earlier.

    In the district council elections 2019, the deputy Chairwoman of the state association, Axel Kammerer in the Saar-Palatinate district with 4.5% and district association member Roman Maurer in the Sankt Wendel district with 4.3% in the respective district councils.

    Schleswig Holstein

    In September 2008, the Free Voters Schleswig-Holstein party was founded independently of the Schleswig-Holstein State Association of Electoral Communities . On January 1, 2012, the state party merged with the Federal Association of Free Voters.

    election results

    Election results since 2008:

    year Bundestag
    state parliaments European
















    2008 10.2 n / A 0.9 0.5
    2009 n / A n / A 1.6 0.8 n / A 1.0 3.9 1.7
    2010 n / A
    2011 n / A n / A n / A 0.7 1.1 2.3 2.8
    2012 0.2 0.9 0.6
    2013 1.0 9.0 1.2 1.1
    2014 n / A 1.6 1.7 1.5
    2015 n / A n / A
    2016 0.1 n / A 0.6 2.2 2.2
    2017 1.0 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.5
    2018 11.6 3.0
    2019 n / A 1.0 3.4 n / A 2.2
    2020 0.6
    2021 2.4 3.0 0.8 1.1 5.4 3.1
    Legend: n.a. – did not show up; italics - predecessor organizations; Bold - best election result; orange - entry into Parliament; Election results in percent

    web links

    Commons : Free Voters  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


    2. a b Statement of accounts, as of December 31, 2019 (PDF; 88 MB)
    3. Cf. the analysis of the positions of the Federal Association of Free Voters by Ulrich Eith: Ideology-free policy or populist protest? Free voters at state and federal level. In: Martin Morlok, Thomas Poguntke, Jens Walther (eds.): Politics past the parties. Free voters and municipal electoral communities as an alternative. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2012, ISBN 978-3-8329-7052-9 , pp. 147–156, here p. 152.
    6. Lisa Peyer: Free voters. In: Parties in Germany. Federal Agency for Civic Education , retrieved April 6, 2019 .
    7. Determination of the state budget for the year 2020 (as of April 19, 2021). Retrieved April 30, 2021 .
    8. Oskar Niedermayer (ed.): Handbook of party research. Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-531-18932-1 , p. 649
    9. [1]
    11. a b c d Principles of the Free Voters. (PDF; 323 kB) (No longer available online.) p. 1 , archived from the original on September 29, 2018 ; retrieved September 4, 2018 .
    12. ↑ Lone warrior in the EU Parliament: Ulrike Müller (Free Voters)., 28 November 2015, accessed 4 September 2018 .
    13. Lisa Peyer: Free voters. In: Parties in Germany. Federal Agency for Civic Education , June 5, 2017, retrieved April 1, 2019 .
    14. Aiwanger: "Immigration based on the Canadian model desired". Bayerischer Rundfunk, October 3, 2018, retrieved January 19, 2019 .
    15. He annoys Söder - and can save him. Spiegel Online , October 12, 2018, retrieved October 14, 2018 .
    16. How will the Free Voters govern Bavaria? Zeit Online , October 15, 2018, retrieved October 15, 2018 .
    17. Bundesvorstandschaften seit 1965. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 27, 2012 ; retrieved September 4, 2018 .
    18. Results of the 2009 European elections. Federal Returning Officer, retrieved on September 4, 2018 .
    19. Determination of party funding for 2010. (PDF; 190 kB) Retrieved on September 4, 2018 .
    20. Free Voters: Circular. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on 2012-01-31 ; retrieved 30 April 2013 .
    21. Free voters against the market power of the banks. (No longer available online.), October 18, 2011, archived from the original on November 1, 2013 ; retrieved September 4, 2018 .
    22. Sunday question federal election., accessed September 4, 2018 .
    23. Jacqueline Goebel: Free voters in free fall. In: . 12 April 2013, retrieved 11 February 2015 .
    24. Adenauer's grandson returns to the CDU., March 27, 2013, accessed September 4, 2018 .
    25. Federal election 2013 – Approval of the state lists., accessed September 4, 2018 .
    26. Free Voters Germany. In: EDP ​​website. Retrieved September 4, 2018 (English).
    27. Gericke switches to Free Voters. In: Web Archive. Ostsee Zeitung, May 9, 2017, retrieved March 9, 2021 .
    28. "Bündnis C" contests state elections in Baden-Württemberg. idea, 14 February 2021, retrieved 9 March 2021 .
    32. Results of the 2021 Bundestag Election. Federal Returning Officer, retrieved on October 6, 2021 .
    33. Results of the 2019 European Elections. Federal Returning Officer, retrieved on May 30, 2019 .
    41. FREE VOTERS found state association in Bremen. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on November 1, 2018 ; retrieved October 31, 2018 .
    46. FREIE WÄHLER Hessen strive for nationwide organization. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on February 12, 2012 ; retrieved September 4, 2018 .
    65. State election without free voters.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as broken. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. dead link/  
    66. Statutes of the State Association of Free Voters Baden-Württemberg (PDF)  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Website of the national association, see § 4 of the statutes@1@2Template: dead link/  
    67. Badische Zeitung . Badische Zeitung website; accessed May 28, 2010.
    68. Circular of the FW Landesverband Baden-Württemberg. (PDF; 142 kB) (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 31, 2012 ; retrieved December 14, 2010 .
    70. Free voters found a Saarland state association today . Saarbruecker newspaper
    71. Two organizations fight over naming rights for Free Voters . Saarbrücker Zeitung  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as broken. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Template: dead link/  
    72. Board of the Saarland State Association. Freie Wahler, accessed April 7, 2019 (German).
    73. ↑ List of members of the district council of the Saar-Palatinate district .
    74. Result Saarland district council elections 2019 .
    75. ↑ List of members of the district council of the district of St. Wendel .
    76. Result Saarland district council elections 2019 .
    77. Statistical Office for Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein . Retrieved February 17, 2018.