WORLD: Mr. Stamp, after five years in a black-yellow coalition, the FDP only just made it into parliament in this state election. Why was the FDP punished?

Joachim Stamp: We didn’t manage to make our own successes as clear as it should have been. We’re going to work that out relentlessly now. We have to put our communication to the test.

We will also decide who will continue to lead the FDP in NRW in the future. I’m not attached to my position, but I want to moderate the process so that we can quickly get back on the offensive.

WORLD: What part did the CDU have in the FDP misery?

Stamp: It doesn’t help now that you don’t follow cards. How we communicate our policies is our responsibility. With Armin Laschet, both partners came into their own. That was different in the last six months. We were successful for four and a half years, the last six months were instructive.

WORLD: Black and yellow have often emphasized the great harmony in the coalition. Was that too much agreement?

Stamp: I believe that the citizens appreciate it when people work together successfully and don’t start arguments in order to distinguish themselves. But it must be clear that the successes remain with those who are also responsible for them.

We saw that in the state elections in Schleswig-Holstein. Much of what the FDP has achieved has been credited to the prime minister.

WORLD: Was taking over the education department in North Rhine-Westphalia a mistake?

Stamp: In the first part of the legislative period, our school minister, Yvonne Gebauer, did an excellent job and set the course for the preservation of the special needs schools, for the abolition of the principle of writing by listening, for the silent transition from G8 to G9, introduction of the School subject economics, strengthening of the subject computer science. The introduction of talent schools in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods was hijacked by our coalition partner.

WORLD: Then came the corona pandemic. How much damage did that do?

Stamp: During the corona pandemic, the Ministry of Education and parts of my ministry had to operate a health management system, which they are not designed for. But you also have to admit that we made communicative errors.

Corona-related changes were forwarded to schools and daycare centers at short notice. This was primarily due to late decisions by the prime ministers’ conference, but this has increased frustration among parents, teachers and educators.

WORLD: What lessons can be learned from the situation in NRW for the FDP in the federal government?

Stamp: One’s own successes must be clearly attributed to the parties, and the parties must treat each other fairly. I once experienced at the municipal level how we asserted ourselves disproportionately and how our cooperation broke down because the partner did not receive the necessary appreciation. All partners have a responsibility to be considerate, even up to a point.

WORLD: Is the outcome of the election the lesson for you to set limits earlier?

Stamp: Yes, I have to blame myself for this, and that is certainly the most justified point of criticism.

WORLD: Where should you have drawn the line?

Stamp: When we were working with Armin Laschet, we should have insisted that a prime ministers’ conference shouldn’t dictate to our ministers when certain measures should be implemented. We should have drawn the red line earlier.

WORLD: The CDU is now beginning to explore with the Greens. How do you view this constellation?

Stamp: I congratulate the CDU and the Greens on their electoral success. It is now their task to form a stable government in North Rhine-Westphalia. We will play an offensive but constructive opposition role.

WORLD: Mathematically, there is a traffic light majority. How realistic is this option?

Stamp: I don’t see this option. I assume that there is a black-green alliance. There are two clear election winners who share a majority.

I will certainly meet for coffee with the top candidates from the CDU, SPD and Greens. We will talk about the overall political situation, but these are not exploratory talks.

WORLD: What can be expected from black and green?

Stamp: I’m assuming that the CDU is willing to go a long way towards accommodating the Greens and sacrificing fundamental positions.

WORLD: How do you see the performance of the traffic lights in the federal government?

Stamp: It is extremely challenging that a completely new alliance, which the FDP did not want either and only took on out of state political responsibility, is immediately confronted with this brutal war of aggression by Putin. That’s why you have to understand that not everything can run smoothly right away. But I would like to find the strength to tackle the necessary reforms together.

For the FDP, it is crucial that people’s concerns about rising prices are taken seriously and that inflation is fought through relief and growth-oriented policies.

“Kick-off Politics” is WELT’s daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.