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The FDP is Courted and Weighs Its Options (September 30, 1969)

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Chairman Scheel: In the interim, Willi Weyer arrived. – We just heard the reports from the gentlemen who have had contact [i.e. with various representatives of the SPD and CDU]. I mentioned briefly that you had contact with [Heinz] Kühn. Perhaps it would be useful if you also reported on your contact with him, so we have this as a basis for discussion.

Weyer: I was in contact not only with Mr. Kühn, but of course also with Mr. Scheufelen, who has been making efforts for days, and I also talked with him before the election. He tried it through all kinds of contacts, starting with Alphons Horten and then through the Federal Chancellery.

(Chairman Scheel: I also talked with Mr. Scheufelen before the election. He is very active!)

I can only repeat what was already hinted at. Scheufelen, of course, said that the CDU would offer all sorts of things, it still wouldn’t work and that sort of thing – just as with Hermann Müller.

Now to yesterday evening’s conversation with Heinz Kühn. As Günter Hoppe also reported, the SPD’s unanimous resolutions are known. – One thing seems important to me, Walter [Scheel]: if we intend to do it, then we should not go on questioning it for weeks or else we’ll be left out in the cold. We have to make a decision soon. We have to start the substantive negotiations soon.

Second, we should be moderate when it comes to our personnel expectations. The lists that I saw today in the newspaper are horrendous. If, after such a disastrous defeat, we start with five or six ministers, it will pull us down; then we’re out of the picture. Then the gentlemen who enter the cabinet might be able to say, well okay, we got to be ministers for a few more years – but the party is finished!

If we want to take advantage of an opportunity to recover politically, then we have to act quickly. In so doing, we have to take into account – and, on this point, I am in agreement with Mr. Kühn – that we will in fact also need a reform of the cabinet at the beginning of our cooperation with the SPD, that is, a reduction in the number of ministries, a consolidation, and more such things whereby we can realize some of the spectacular plans of the FDP.

(Chairman Scheel: We have not started the discussion yet!)

– I just want to say what I discussed with Kühn, where we agree. These are ideas that Kühn and I discussed. [ . . . ]

Source: Stenographischen Niederschrift über die Sitzung des Bundesvorstandes der FDP am 30. September 1969, 10:00 Uhr in Bonn [Transcript of the session of the FDP federal executive committee on September 30, 1969, at 10:00 am in Bonn], ADL, File 153; reprinted in Daniel Hofmann, “Verdächtige Eile. Der Weg der Koalition aus SPD und FDP nach der Bundestagswahl vom 28. September 1969” [“Suspicious Haste. The Path to the SPD-FDP Coalition after the Bundestag Elections of September 28, 1969”], Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 2000, pp. 548-52.

Translation: Allison Brown

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