German MP highlights role of organized liberalism

"There is so much more potential for liberalism."

In her first visit to Asia as member of the board of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) in charge of the region, German Member of Parliament (MP) Bettina Stark-Watzinger pointed out the greater need for organized liberalism worldwide.

Speaking before representatives of FNF country offices in Southeast & East Asia (SEEAsia) and South Asia in the Pan-Asia Regional Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Stark-Watzinger discussed the current polarization in German politics, but remained optimistic on the future of liberalism. “I don’t foresee Germany moving completely to the right, but it will require time and effort to fight off populism,” she said.

Stark-Watzinger, who is with the Freie Demokraten Partei (FDP), the Liberal Party in Germany, acknowledged the ascent of the populist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), but believed that it will eventually exhaust its influence. She cited survey results from German political research institute INSA published in September 2018. Asked which of the existing parties they would never vote for, 66% of the respondents answered AfD. On the other hand, FDP, which won 10.7% of the vote in the 2017 elections, has a chance to increase its support by 9.3%, or up to 20%. "There is so much more potential for liberalism," she remarked.

INSA Report

Stark-Watzinger emphasized the liberal proposition that there are more opportunities through freedom, and that FNF is the creative innovation platform to promote this through education, campaign, and networking. “We must reach out to people who can be multipliers of our ideas,” she added.

In the Pan-Asia region, shrinking political space is a huge challenge, but there are silver linings: “The result of the Malaysian elections in May that unseated the party that had ruled the country for 60 years, showed that democracy is alive. In addition, Asia is where the action is in the world economy,” stated FNF SEEAsia Regional Director Siegfried Herzog.

FNF recently presented its strategy for international activities in response increasing political restraints. It also introduced its new board, which is now headed by Prof. Karl-Heinz Paque. The Foundation aims to strengthen its role as a think tank of liberalism, and to develop the digital communication channels to spread its programs, especially its international work. FNF has over 60 project countries globally.

The Pan-Asia Meeting was a follow up on the discussion in Colombo, Sri Lanka to create synergies to promote freedom. As part of the digital initiatives of the Foundation, new technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) were experimented. Through chroma key photography, the participants also journeyed around Asia. The event also became an occasion to celebrate FNF's 60th Anniversary. Watch the video here -

The activity was held on October 5-8, 2018.