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Rösler frontrunner for new FDP leader
Photo: DPA

Rösler frontrunner for new FDP leader

Published: 04 Apr 2011 08:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Apr 2011 12:31 GMT+02:00

Health Minister Philipp Rösler was shaping up Monday morning as the most likely new leader of the Free Democrats as the business-friendly party geared up for generational change and tough times ahead.

In the wake of Guido Westerwelle’s announcement Sunday evening that he would step down as party chairman, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) was moving quickly to regain momentum with a quick announcement of a new leader.

If chosen by his party, Rösler would also become vice chancellor in the coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.

The new FDP chairman will need to work hard to turn around the party's ailing fortunes following recent drubbings in key state elections.

Several media organizations reported Monday morning that Rösler was the likely choice to succeed as chairman. However the party's general secretary, Christian Lindner, who is Rösler's main rival for chairman, announced at midday that the issue would not be decided until Tuesday morning.

"We have not specifically talked about this question," he said.

Westerwelle announced Sunday evening he would quit as leader of the FDP next month but stay on as Germany's foreign minister. He conceded Monday morning that if his successor were a member of cabinet, as Rösler is, that person would also become vice chancellor.

''It is absolutely clear that the next party chairman, if he is a member of the cabinet, will also become vice chancellor,'' he told the party's leadership, according to various news reports.

However questions are likely to be raised about Westerwelle’s demand to stay on as foreign minister – a role traditionally held by the leader of the junior coalition member.

The most widely considered alternative to Rösler is general secretary Lindner, 32, who is not a member of the cabinet.

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Greens are set to go for the jugular on the issue of Westerwelle’s cabinet position, arguing that he is no longer plausible as foreign minister.

“Mr. Westerwelle must be asking himself whether he still has enough strength to fulfil the office of foreign minister,” the centre-left SPD’s foreign spokesman Rolf Mützenich told business daily Handelsblatt.

On Sunday evening Westwelle told reporters: "After 10 years as party chairman, I will no longer stand for the office at the next party congress in May.

"I will focus on my work as foreign minister and I will continue to work with all my strength for the success of the liberals, for the success of the FDP.

"It is an exceptional day for me personally but I am sure that it is the right decision, also to ensure a generational change in the FDP."

The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:43 April 4, 2011 by auniquecorn
Lets see, Rösler is the health minister, and also wants to be the party chairman, of the Free Democratic Party.

Westerwelle wants to be vice chancellor and foreign minister,

Westerwelle announced Sunday evening he would quit as leader of his ailing FDP next month but stay on as Germany's foreign minister.

Maybe if this gov´t placed 1 person in 1 position, the problems would get handled a little better.

Are we that short on qualified people to run this country?

We better start reviewing applications from auslanders, I´m sure somebodies out there that can ease the load.
08:50 April 4, 2011 by Krim
Westerwelle is one who can talk and talk but no substance. The FDP needs someone who has principles, who believes in these principles and who can be independent from corporates. Mission impossible
09:46 April 4, 2011 by JAMessersmith
Ok, whatever. Everyone knew Westerwelle was out. No surprise. But the FDP is still the weakest link in the coalition... obviously.
12:12 April 4, 2011 by The-ex-pat
Is Mythbusters giving German politics a go, he looks like Grant Imahara lol
12:14 April 4, 2011 by way2cool
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
13:56 April 4, 2011 by hanskarl
Any young FDP member I think can only hope that they internally clean the slate including Christian Lindner from leadership. It seems to me that Guido was only allowed to stay in this position with leaderships support. It seems to me that the FDP is imploding and needs significant internal change to regain the momentum they once enjoyed.

Guido and those supporting him need to get completely out of the limelight, go home and let the next generation take the lead. No doubt they have tremendous insight but it certainly hasn't helped the FDP the past 10 years.
14:43 April 4, 2011 by Englishted
He lead the party downhill as leader.

What is he doing for the country as foreign minister.
17:42 April 4, 2011 by idiot
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
18:14 April 4, 2011 by Englishted
F.D.P. the Fast Downhill Party,

F.D.P. Frankly Diabolical Pacifists.

F.D.P. Fawning Double-dealing Planktons
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