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This is a guest post by Dr. Maren Jasper-Winter (FDP). She has been a member of the Berlin House of Representatives since the 2016 parliamentary elections and represents the Berlin-Mitte constituency there. She sits on the Petitions Committee and represents the parliamentary group on the Berlin Advisory Board for Family Issues. In the guest post, she describes the motivation for the choice of location and the change process of the Free Democrats.

Website Dr. Maren Jasper-Winter

A living democracy lives on one active civil society. For this, a conversation from person to person is essential. Only in this way can different views and interests be taken into account in the formation of political will. Never before have voters had more opportunities to enter into an exchange directly with their elected. Every four or five years the parties and their people are put to the test - have they represented their positions in parliament and given the concerns of their supporters a voice? Were you able to successfully promote the renewal of the mandate in the election campaigns?

The factors for a good vote result are manifold. Party strategists and campaigners face fundamental changes. Long-term party affiliation is decreasing and the number of swing voters is increasing. In addition, more and more people decide late on where to make their cross. Election evaluations show that most recently in the election for the Berlin House of Representatives, almost half of the FDP voters decided shortly before or directly on election day. With only a few exceptions, it can be said that trends can be reinforced by campaigns but cannot be completely reversed.

So how do you build trust in your own problem-solving skills, how and where are spaces for a dialogue at eye level created?

Three years ago, the Free Democrats started a process of guiding principles that was intended to help clarify one's own identity and facilitate an understanding of shared values ​​and programs. Under the motto #GermanMutit became clear that we stand for optimism, cosmopolitanism and solution orientation.

These attributes relate to both our content and our appearance, which was underlined by an optical relaunch. The party's time in the extra-parliamentary opposition (APO) has changed at all levels. In many places, APO was less a status to be changed quickly than a state of mind. New topics were tackled, old habits questioned and new ways of political communication were explored.

As a small party with limited financial resources, we rely on new media and innovative formats. Above all, the federal chairman Christian Lindner plays the keyboard of the social networks; only a few politicians in Germany can keep up with his reach on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. His angry speech in the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament, in which he promotes a start-up culture in Germany, was viewed millions of times on YouTube and Facebook.

In the last election campaign, the FDP Berlin and our top candidate Sebastian Czaja not only successfully and sustainably set the Tegel issue, but also carried out various guerrilla measures and a startup campaign that received a lot of international attention. For the kick-off, a poster with the slogan "Dear start-ups, keep calm and move to Berlin." Was driven through London. For less than 2,000 euros, more than 200 million media contacts with a media equivalent of six million euros were achieved(See also politics & communication).

The topics of entrepreneurship and startups were successfully combined with modern means of communication that credibly conveyed openness to new technologies and digitization as an opportunity.

With this attitude and the campaign claim “Time for the next Berlin”, the Free Democrats were re-elected to the Berlin House of Representatives on September 18, 2016 with 6.7 percent.

During the election campaign, the FDP district association in the middle had created spaces that were low-threshold and local place and occasion for content-related discussions. A pop store was opened as an election campaign store, where volunteers met and events took place. Embedded in social media, we have made politics more direct and tangible, so that both sides can present their concerns and positions to each other and enter into dialogue. Online and offline went hand in hand. And local visibility was rewarded. We did very well in my constituency in Mitte, where the pop-up store was also located. So it was only logical that my new constituency office should be in the neighborhood where I've lived for 18 years. I want to be approachable here.

Coworking space WE’RE ALL IN
The idea of ​​a constituency office is Break down barriers and also take up impulses from the environment. Just a few weeks after the election, I moved into my own constituency office on Torstrasse in a coworking space "WE'RE ALL IN". This has many advantages for me: I was able to work straight away, I had and didn't need more than one laptop and a coffee machine. As in the founding phase of a company, I was busy hiring employees, clarifying formalities with the (very helpful!) Administration of the House of Representatives and getting used to the new day-to-day work.

Box by Maren Jssper-Winter in the coworking space
In my box in the coworking space I have two desks and can also use the entire infrastructure, be it the conference rooms for work meetings and workshops with up to 30 people or larger events with a hundred people. A café will soon open here, in which I will then offer citizens' consultations (German and English). My employees and I have a lively and inspiring environment here; solo freelancers and startups from the tech industry work around us, some rent the desks on a daily basis. It's easy to get into conversation. That goes with Mitte and that goes with the Free Democrats.

The constituency office is the starting point for my political work, about which I am already regularly using short Facebook videos, e.g. from the House of Representatives, a newsletter and soon (again) increasingly via Twitter reports. I will continue to pursue this open and networked approach - online and offline. My goal is to create easily accessible offers and formats so that I can stand up for the people in Mitte.


Dr. Maren Jasper-Winter
Dr. Maren Jasper-Wintermoved into the Berlin House of Representatives as the top candidate of the FDP Berlin-Mitte via the district list in the election on September 18, 2016. In her constituency (center 1) she received 8.7 percent of the first votes and 10.8 percent of the second votes. Jasper-Winter is the first Berlin MP to move into her constituency office in a coworking space.