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The FDP to Hold the Balance (October 2-3, 1982)

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In this hour, I also do not intend to assess (as I have always done before) thirteen years of governance, which has received a good deal of criticism. There were decisive steps, new steps in foreign policy and policy regarding the East [Ostpolitik]; there were also decisive steps in domestic policy, in social policy, whose foundations I assess as positively today as I did in the past. I do not deny that mistakes were made. Wherever people are at work, mistakes will be made. That was the case in the CDU/FDP government coalition; that was the case in the Grand Coalition; that was the case in the present coalition. And it will be the same for any future coalition. What is important is that once it has been recognized that a mistake was made here or there, that people have the courage to learn from these mistakes. And this is easier if the situation is not viewed ideologically but if decisions are made based on reason. We are trying to make a decision based on reason.

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to make two personal remarks in closing: Mr. Chancellor, we have worked together very closely over many years. I value this work and I respect all you did. I stand by our collaboration, and I am grateful to you for it. That we now have to go our separate ways is part of democracy. I would like to ask you not to forget that you and I and everyone in this house are here to serve this country, the people. So actions that are decided in one way or another should be viewed from this perspective and not from another. My heartfelt thanks for our work together!

Colleague Wehner, we have had to make very difficult decisions over the last thirteen years. We sometimes stood alone before decisions, from absolutely divergent standpoints. When I think of the co-determination, of the treaties in which we had a common basis. Our personal conduct was always fair. Thank you for that. Amidst the most difficult conflicts of interest we found solutions and advanced them together, with compromises whose workability was also eventually proven. I got to know you as a fair partner, as a person who is often misrepresented in public. I am truly hurt that this is the manner in which we have to go our separate ways. Colleague Wehner, my high esteem remains! Colleague Kohl! If the election goes the way we hope – and I am convinced that it will – you will have a fair partner, because I see fair partnership as a decisive aspect of the credibility of this democracy.

Source: Erklärung von Wolfgang Mischnick, FDP, zum Bruch der sozialliberalen Koalition, 1. Oktober 1982 [Declaration by Wolfgang Mischnick, FDP, on the End of the Social-Liberal Coalition (October 1, 1982)], Süddeutsche Zeitung (October 2-3, 1982); reprinted in Irmgard Wilharm, ed., Deutsche Geschichte 1962-1983. Dokumente in zwei Bänden [German History 1962-1983. Documents in Two Volumes], vol. 2, Frankfurt am Main, 1989, pp. 268-71.

Translation: Allison Brown

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