• Germany's news in English
 

Merkel's partner picks leader for crucial fight

Published: 11 Mar 2013 10:00 GMT+01:00

The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which has governed with Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union since 2009, selected Rainer Brüderle, 67, to represent them in the September 22 vote in Europe's top economy.

He was responsible for sparking a national debate about sexism in Germany when a 29-year-old female reporter wrote that he leered at her breasts and told her, "you could also fill out a dirndl," Bavaria's low-cut dress for women.

But this was not addressed at the FDP meeting - Brüderle was focussed on trying to rally his toops.

"People want a strong voice for freedom. The chance is there for us. We should use it and we want to use it," said Brüderle during a 75-minute speech at the party conference in Berlin.

"I know you will all fight with me," he told the 600 delegates, who responded by giving him a five-minute standing ovation. "Let's go into battle," he shouted, to cheers and applause.

There was no formal vote to elect Brüderle, who was economy minister under Merkel between October 2009 and May 2011, but a show of hands suggested he

had considerable backing from the party faithful.

Brüderle has a tough scrap ahead of him, as the party struggles to turn around its fortunes following years of internal bickering and plunging support.

The FDP was the surprise package in the 2009 elections, polling 14.6 percent and giving Merkel the combined votes needed to form a viable government.

But following a failure to push through promised tax cuts and a brief flirtation with a more eurosceptic line, supporters left in droves and the party suffered a series of catastrophic regional election defeats. It ditched its then leader Guido Westerwelle, who nonetheless hung onto his job as Foreign Minister, yet failed to revive poll figures.

The party has consistently failed to score the five percent required to win seats in the Bundestag lower house of parliament and would be cast into political oblivion if this performance were repeated in September.

The latest survey, published on Sunday by polling institute Emnid for the Bild am Sonntag weekly newspaper, put the FDP at four percent.

The election reverses took their poll on the party's leaders with Westerwelle stepping down as party head, to be replaced by Philipp Rösler, currently economy minister and vice-chancellor in Merkel's cabinet.

But the 40-year-old also came under heavy fire with the party languishing in the polls and eventually stepped aside as the FDP chancellor candidate although remained party head.

Rösler was re-elected party leader on Saturday with 85.7 percent of the vote.

The FDP's troubles are also a headache for Merkel.

She has repeatedly stated that she wants to continue in government with the FDP but their weakness may yet force her to negotiate with other parties to form a workable coalition.

Both Merkel and her party remain highly popular in Germany and polls show her conservatives enjoy a sizeable lead over the nearest rivals, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

However, if the FDP is unable to turn its fortunes around, analysts say she could yet be forced into another so-called "Grand Coalition" with the SPD, like that which governed Germany between 2005 and 2009.

AFP/mjl

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

11:04 March 11, 2013 by IchBinKönig
'But following a failure to push through promised tax cuts and a brief flirtation with a more eurosceptic line, supporters left in droves'

Seems to me there is still a bit of a 'flirtation' with a more 'bit' more eurosceptic line.

Ja, Ja. Herr Brüderle, no arguments left?

http://youtu.be/Zz7eC1tBsgQ
20:30 March 11, 2013 by bwjijsdtd
Making a fist, pounding the table ... yelling, screaming .... reminds me of another politician ... 1933 ... you know the outcome of that little idiot ...
Today's headlines
Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram
The world's roundest sphere. Photo: DPA

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram

The German Nation Metrology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig has set itself the enormous task of finding a new formula for measuring a kilogram. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day
Photo: DPA

Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day

Germanwings said on Friday that it had no knowledge of a doctor-signed sick note found by investigators at flight 4U9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz's flat. READ  

Varoufakis quells rumours of resignation
Yanis Varoufakis. Photo: DPA

Varoufakis quells rumours of resignation

Update: After German tabloid Bild reported that Germany's least-favourite Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis was considering resigning, the minister rejected the story on Twitter. READ  

Germany to expand disability rights
Photo: DPA

Germany to expand disability rights

A representative of the German Labour Ministry went before a UN Committee on Friday to discuss the government's plan for improved rights for disabled people. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings captain's compassion goes viral
Photo: DPA

Germanwings captain's compassion goes viral

A Facebook post describing how a Germanwings pilot personally reassured his passengers of their safety on a flight on Wednesday has received over quarter of a million likes. READ  

Bundestag passes 'foreigner toll' for roads
Photo: DPA

Bundestag passes 'foreigner toll' for roads

The Bundestag (German parliament) passed a hugely controversial law on Friday which will charge foreigners for the use of German roads. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule
Photo: DPA

Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule

The Federation of the German Air Travel Industry (BDL) confirmed on Friday afternoon that from now on two people must be in the cockpit at all times, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the Germanwings disaster. READ  

Germany urgently needs immigrants: study
Spanish immigrants in Germany. Photo: DPA

Germany urgently needs immigrants: study

A study by the Bertelsmann Institute found on Friday that Germany will need around half a million new immigrants every year until 2050 to maintain its work force. READ  

Bundesbank tough, public soft on Greece
Jens Weidmann, head of the Bundesbank. Photo: DPA

Bundesbank tough, public soft on Greece

Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said on Friday that he is opposed to giving Greece further financial help because he believes the new government has frittered away too much trust, but a new poll showed that support for a "Grexit" had shrunk below 50 percent. READ  

Town flocks to mourn lost schoolchildren
A black ribbon on a sign in Haltern, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Town flocks to mourn lost schoolchildren

President Joachim Gauck arrived in Haltern on Friday to join families and schoolchildren mourning the loss of their classmates and teachers in the Germanwings flight 4U9525 crash. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,137
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd