“I knew that the evening would be tough,” says FDP man Bijan Djir-Sarai during the evening at “Markus Lanz”. But he probably didn’t expect that he would spend almost the entire broadcast time defending his party. Lanz, on the other hand, clearly enjoys dismantling the FDP.

It’s not a jubilee evening for Bijan Djir-Saai, foreign politician and FDP general secretary since April 2022. First he had to admit to “Markus Lanz” that – despite belonging to one of the three governing parties – he only found out from the press that Poland was accusing the Germans of breaking their word because of the tanks supplied as part of the ring swap.

Then author Sascha Lob accuses the FDP of “inadequate marketing” of its own policies within the traffic light government and a lack of contact with its own voters, who now also believe that a speed limit on German autobahns is no longer a “sacred cow”.

“One is government and opposition in personal union,” says Markus Lanz, summarizing the current role of the FDP in Berlin. “I think that was always the strategy of the FDP when it was in government,” is topped by “taz” editor Ulrike Herrmann. Djir-Sarai meanwhile sits between Lanz and Herrmann and is silent at first as if he has nothing to do with the FDP. And then admits: “I knew the evening was going to be tough.”

But of course the general secretary is not of the opinion that the FDP is a kind of opposition within the traffic light, he would also advise his party against it. On the other hand, the FDP has now been voted out in North Rhine-Westphalia because it failed to make its signature visible in the government. “You are not elected by women, you are not elected by senior citizens, you are not elected by civil servants,” summarizes journalist Herrmann again for the FDP general.

The party can only rely on young, well-paid men. But even of those in North Rhine-Westphalia, a large part migrated to the Greens on election Sunday. “And that’s really dangerous for you,” warns Herrmann. With a lot of fun, she also calculates what type of person is obviously making a career for the FDP: male, from the West and born sometime between the mid and late 70s. So actually in everything Christian Lindner resembles.

And then there is the FDP Digital and Transport Minister, Volker Wissing, who wants to save the global climate by banning food posts on social media. When Lanz brings that up, Djir-Sarai is quite exhausted: “Don’t force me to comment on everything now.” Even if that’s the job of a general secretary, of course.

When it came to the topic of 130 on the Autobahn, the meteorologist and climate expert Mojib Latif also got involved in the FDP bashing: In view of Wissing’s hopefully only flippant comment that a speed limit would fail due to the lack of speed limit signs, he warns that the debate should be taken more seriously at. Less CO2 emissions, fewer traffic jams, fewer accidents and less fuel consumption: all of these are important arguments for a speed limit.

Latif briefly calculated what a limit of 130 kilometers would mean financially: Saving just one liter of petrol per 100 kilometers would add up to 400 euros with an annual mileage of 20,000 kilometers. He himself, says Latif, consistently drives a maximum of 100 kilometers per hour, even on the freeway.

Finally, Lanz brings the “liberal middle class” into the conversation, according to Djir-Sarai “a preliminary organization of the FDP”. “Another word for lobby?” Lanz asks. Djir-Sarai denies this: The “liberal middle class” is simply there to address certain issues in politics.

Axel Graf Bülow, explains Lanz quite smugly, is the vice-chairman of the Liberal Mittelstand – and before that he was a lobbyist for medium-sized gas stations and general manager of the Federal Association of Free Gas Stations and Independent Mineral Oil Traders. Is there a connection to the state subsidization of the petrol price by 30 cents per liter enforced by the FDP?

Now Djir-Sarai has finally reached the end of his already limited powers of argument. It’s not entirely clean of Lanz to make a connection here between an FDP man with an oily past and a relief package that not only benefits motorists but also the oil companies. “It’s adventurous!” he says. You can see it that way or another way. “All the best to you for the coming weeks and months,” Markus Lanz says goodbye to FDP Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai at the end of the program. He just nods.