Strategy 18

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Election poster of the FDP for the federal election 2002

With Strategy 18 , also Project 18 , called the campaign strategy was FDP for 2002 general elections called. In May 2001, the Düsseldorf Federal Party Congress of the FDP decided on the strategy that "with new forms of communication and representation ... should open up new groups of voters" for the party and position the FDP as an independent and independent political force outside of a given camp. The name referred to the electoral goal to triple the proportion of the vote from 6 to 18%. In the midst of controversies about a possibly related right-wing populist orientation, the FDP ultimately achieved 7.4% and moved away from this course after the election.

Prehistory and Development

In 1999 the FDP found itself in a crisis that threatened its existence. In the Bundestag election on September 27, 1998 , she lost the decade-long government participation in a coalition with CDU / CSU to the red-green coalition , and both in the European elections on June 13, 1999 and in most of the 1999 state elections , she failed on the five Percent hurdle .

Against this background, Jürgen Möllemann , then state chairman of the FDP NRW, had Fritz Goergen develop an election campaign concept for the state elections in May 2000 . It was named "Werkstatt 8"; it was under the motto “NRW needs speed. Möllemann. ”The topics of education, traffic jams, bureaucracy and security come to the fore. Guido Westerwelle, the General Secretary at the time, was “very impressed” with the overall concept. During the campaign, one poster was particularly controversial: it showed Adolf Hitler between Osho and Freddy Krueger with the subtitle “If we don't find teachers quickly, our children will find them themselves.” The share of the vote rose from 4 to 9.8 percent to be doubled. During the election campaign, the "media conveyance of emotions and diffuse resentment ... the FDP was stylized into a protest party similar to the FPÖ ... and Möllemann into a tribune in the style of Haider". The election success prompted Möllemann to propagate more ambitious goals for the federal FDP. The use of the number 18 has also been interpreted as a right-wing extremist symbol , as this is a code common in the neo-Nazi scene for the initials of Adolf Hitler (the 1st and 8th letters of the alphabet).

At the following federal party conference in 2001, with the election of Guido Westerwelle, it was decided to turn away from the previous image of the FDP as a “party of high earners” . The concept remained controversial in the party leadership. After the FDP won only 5.1% of the votes in the conventionally conducted election campaign for the state elections in Hamburg in September 2001 , while the right-wing populist Schill party immediately gained 19.4% of the vote, the ideas of Westerwelle and Möllemann prevailed. Goergen was one of Westerwelle's election campaign advisors from January 2002 and worked on Project 18.

The other ideas of Strategy 18 were not new: The idea for the candidacy for chancellor came from Ralf Dahrendorf , the breaking out of the bourgeois camp had been postulated decades earlier by Wolfgang Döring and Karl-Hermann Flach .

Election campaign

Westerwelle's shoes, with which he also advertised Project 18 on television

The aim of doubling the result from NRW to 18% for the Bundestag election should also be achieved using methods similar to those used in “Werkstatt 8”. Guido Westerwelle advertised Project 18 in a yellow-blue Winnebago Elanté 37 motorhome , built around 1992, which was named “www. guidomobil .de “and was used at public festivals, swimming pools and beaches as well as at a McDonald's branch. Westerwelle sometimes wore coordinated clothing and tried to attract interested citizens to his party. Among other things, he also paid a visit to the Big Brother container. This form of election campaign was often referred to and criticized in the media as a joke campaign .

According to Westerwelle, an "equidistance" - an ideologically equal distance - should be created to the popular parties CDU , CSU and SPD , which should enable the FDP to enter into a new coalition at any time. The liberalism should more emphasis be enforced awarded and so own positions in total, which was subordinated until then, according to many party Active too strong coalition discipline, and similar considerations.

Möllemann, the leader of the FDP parliamentary group in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, supported Jamal Karsli's attacks on the Israeli government in April 2002 because of its actions against the Palestinians . Some received or rated this as Möllemann's targeted anti-Semitism in the federal election campaign. Some leading FDP politicians strictly rejected Karsli's faction change from the Greens to the FDP. Karsli finally resigned from the FDP in June. In the course of the dispute, Möllemann also criticized Michel Friedman , the then Vice-President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Shortly before the general election, Möllemann released the leaflet “Klartext. Courage. Möllemann ”as direct mail to households in North Rhine-Westphalia. In this paper he sharply attacked Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Friedman. The resulting anti-Semitism debate thwarted Westerwelle's “fun election campaign” and increased tensions between Westerwelle and Möllemann.

In the state elections in Saxony-Anhalt in April 2002 , the FDP was able to increase its share of the vote from 4.2 to 13.3%. This enabled the FDP to tap new constituencies. "A party that traditionally relied on voters with property and education suddenly found support from workers and simply structured minds." In the House of Representatives election in Berlin in October 2001 , the FDP was able to increase its share of the vote from 2.2 to 9.9%, where strategy 18 was also used. In contrast, the state associations of Baden-Württemberg (under Walter Döring ) and Hesse (under Ruth Wagner ) distanced themselves from the project. The former Bavarian state chairman Hermann K. Stützer resigned from the FDP on the grounds that "the federal leadership deliberately presented the FDP as a ' fun party '."

In the 2002 Bundestag election , the FDP finally achieved 7.4% of the vote; the red-green coalition under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was able to continue to govern . On the evening of the election, the moderator of the elephant group Hartmann von der Tann, Guido Westerwelle, asked : “Mr. Westerwelle, are 18 minus Möllemann seven?” Westerwelle replied that it was not only Möllemann's fault; the FDP was "below its possibilities". Fritz Goergen left the party.

Subsequent criticism and departure

Since the election, the party’s conflicts over Westerwelle’s leadership style and Möllemann’s behavior have intensified. Hildegard Hamm-Brücher (1921-2016) resigned from the FDP after more than fifty years of membership. She called for a review of the “campaign strategy 18 that was wrong from A to Z”. This includes that not only Möllemann, but also the party chairman as a candidate for chancellor is responsible. On the other hand, she turned against the "rapprochement of the FDP to the anti-Israeli and one-sidedly pro-Palestinian positions of Mr. Möllemann" and found the demarcation of Westerwelle inadequate. The Hessian state chairman Ruth Wagner asked Möllemann to leave the FDP because of the affair surrounding his “anti-Semitic” leaflet. Möllemann resigned the chairmanship of the parliamentary group and the regional association in October 2002 and preceded a party exclusion procedure by leaving the FDP in March 2003; he died in June 2003 (see The Möllemann Affair 2002/2003 ).

Although the FDP was able to mobilize an above-average number of young voters through the “fun election campaign”, the controversies surrounding Möllemann led to a departure from the project. At the FDP federal party conference in 2004 - one year after Mölleman's death - the turning away from Project 18 and the “fun party” was demonstratively emphasized. In the commercials for the 2005 Bundestag elections , the FDP, in the person of its chairman Westerwelle, presented itself seriously and in a way that supported the state.

Parts of the public perceived Project 18 more as a media production and not as an independent election concept. Even before Westerwelle became candidate for chancellor in the federal election campaign in 2002, some media attributed the FDP to the image of a “fun party”. The media scientist Christian Schicha summarized this with the words: Möllemann “recognized that the personalized form of political communication is an important yardstick for political success.” The media staging of a politician would become questionable if “the presentation of the actual content is too strong dominates and problem-solving skills are replaced by populist appearances. "


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Eckhard Jesse and Roland Sturm (eds.): Balance sheet of the Bundestag election 2005. Requirements, results, consequences. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-14968-7 , p. 103 ff.
  2. ^ A b FDP election campaign: Adolf Hitler on Möllemann poster. Der Spiegel , January 11, 2000, accessed September 15, 2009 .
  3. This is how Möllemann wants to win the election. In: Der Spiegel , January 11, 2000.
  4. a b Udo Leuschner: The history of the FDP. Metamorphoses of a party between right, social liberal and neoconservative. Edition Octopus, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-86582-166-9 , p. 301 ff . (full view on Google Books).
  5. ^ Artists in the election campaign: "The 18 means Adolf Hitler". Der Spiegel , September 19, 2002, accessed June 10, 2019 .
  6. New self-confidence even without points. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of May 7, 2001.
  7. Guido makes mobile - . In: . ( [accessed September 25, 2018]).
  8. Guido mobil in the Guidomobil from July 20, 2002 ( Memento from May 30, 2002 in the Internet Archive )
  9. a b Eckhard Jesse : Two party systems? Parties and party system in the old and new countries before and after the Federal Parliament election 2002. In: Eckhard Jesse, Roland Sturm (Ed.): Balance sheet of the Federal Parliament election 2002. Prerequisites, results, consequences. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2003, ISBN 3-531-14172-4 , pp. 15–36, here p. 26.
  10. ^ Illustration of the controversial leaflet on Spiegel Online from September 17, 2002.
  11. Christian Schicha : Guido step on the gas. Right of way for work in the FDP election advertising for the federal elections in 2002 and 2005. In: Andreas Dörner, Christian Schicha (Hrsg.): Politics in the spot format. On the semantics, pragmatics and aesthetics of political advertising in Germany. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 3-531-15408-7 , pp. 257–294, here p. 272 .
  12. Sabine Beikler: FDP regional leaders distance themselves from “Project 18”. In: Der Tagesspiegel from September 8, 2001.
  13. Barbara Gillmann: FDP regional leaders distance themselves from "Project 18". In: Handelsblatt of October 16, 2002.
  14. Leaving the "fun party". In: Hamburger Abendblatt Online from August 2, 2002.
  15. ^ Fritz Goergen: FDP scandal - self-promoters and traders destroy a political idea. Reviews at Perlentaucher .
  16. ^ FDP between dispute and strategy. In: Hamburger Abendblatt from January 6, 2003.
  17. Interview with Hildegard Hamm-Brücher: “The SPD is trapped”. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung of May 27, 2008.
  18. ^ Away from Project 18 - FDP is looking for a new course. In: Berliner Morgenpost of October 27, 2002.
  19. Eckhard Jesse, Roland Sturm (ed.): Balance sheet of the Bundestag election 2005. Requirements, results, consequences. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-14968-7 , p. 105.
  20. Christian Schicha: Guido step on the gas. Right of way for work in the FDP election advertising for the federal elections in 2002 and 2005. In: Andreas Dörner, Christian Schicha (Hrsg.): Politics in the spot format. On the semantics, pragmatics and aesthetics of political advertising in Germany. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 3-531-15408-7 , pp. 257–294, here p. 285 .
  21. Christian Schicha: "Fight, Jürgen, fight ...". Jürgen W. Möllemann's staging strategies between popularity, provocation and populism. In: Journal for Communication Ecology. Volume 5, 2003, No. 1, pp. 57-60.