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

Despite the poor performance of the Free Democrats in the September elections, the party was courted as a coalition partner. In a meeting held on September 30, 1969, FDP party leaders summarize the talks they had conducted with both the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats over the previous two days and discussed the conditions under which their party could best distinguish itself in a coalition government.

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Excerpts from the Transcript of the Session of the FDP Federal Executive Committee on September 30, 1969

[ . . . ]

Genscher: On election night, Mr. Friderichs notified us that Mr. Kohl wanted to speak with us. Then he called again later and suggested that Mr. Scheel and an FDP delegation should come to the chancellor’s bungalow. Gathered there were the federal chancellor himself, Mr. Dufhues, Mr. Heck, and, if I have been informed correctly, Mr. Barzel, too – either that or his presence had been promised. The CDU was prepared to conclude some kind of coalition agreement with us that very night. I talked about it with Mr. Scheel as well, and we agreed that there was no reason to hold such negotiations on election night. I shared the results of our conversation with Mr. Kohl in the Rhineland-Palatinate bureau. I said: We will have our committees together on Tuesday. No negotiations on forming a government can be conducted before then.

(Chair[man] Scheel: Did Mr. Kohl make any substantive statements during this first conversation?)

He only said that they were very ready to enter into a coalition with the Free Democratic Party, and that such a coalition would have far-reaching consequences for state politics as well, and that it would involve a generous distribution of cabinet positions that would heal existing wounds. He said: Of course you will be treated very generously! – And I said: This isn’t the time to discuss such questions. – There was no mention of any details whatsoever.

Chairman Scheel: May I ask Mr. Müller to expand on that insofar as he has likewise received information from the CDU. Then we will have gathered all the CDU information together.

Dr. Müller: As FDP chairman in the state of Baden-Württemberg, I was at the press and television headquarters in the state parliament [Landtag] on election night. All of the party chairs had been officially invited there, along with the representatives of the state governments as well. I spent the entire evening there. All of the party chairs made joint radio declarations.

As the election results became clear over the course of the evening, I was asked to receive Mr. Ehmke, who was also there. He told me that the SPD was prepared to form a coalition with us, even if it came to a slight majority. I told him: I am taking note of this and will pass the information on to our committees. And then I did this via telephone.

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