CHRISTIAN LINDNER, the leader of Germany’s pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), is likely to emerge as a crucial figure after the federal election on September 26th. In one of the most open elections the country has known, polling suggests that it will be difficult to form a coalition without the FDP. Among the most divisive figures in German politics, Mr Lindner will relish the chance to cap his rapid ascent with a job in the government—ideally as the next finance minister.
After dabbling in entrepreneurship and serving as an air-force reservist, in 2000 the 21-year-old Mr Lindner became the youngest-ever MP in North Rhine-Westphalia, his home state (and Germany’s biggest). He entered the Bundestag in 2009, and took over the FDP’s leadership four years later, at just 34. He is credited with rebuilding the party’s confidence after a tricky period, in which from 2009 to 2013 it had been an unhappy junior coalition partner to Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic bloc (CDU/CSU), before falling out of parliament entirely, having failed to cross the 5% electoral threshold at the 2013 election.