• Germany's news in English

Westerwelle stepping down as FDP leader

The Local · 3 Apr 2011, 18:53

Published: 03 Apr 2011 12:03 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Apr 2011 18:53 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"After 10 years as party chairman, I will no longer stand for the office at the next party congress in May," he said after days of speculation about his impending resignation as FDP chief following a series of poll debacles.

"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."

Westerwelle, 49, who is also German leader Angela Merkel's vice chancellor, did not announce the name of his likely successor or take questions from reporters.

He said he had made the decision earlier Sunday after returning from a trip to China and Japan and speaking with top party officials "and others."

"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," he said.

Possible successors at the helm of the pro-business party, which has served as kingmaker in most German governments since World War II, include Health Minister Philipp Rösler, 38, and FDP general secretary Christian Lindner, 32. The party leadership is to meet Monday morning.

The sharp-tongued Westerwelle, post-war Germany's most unpopular chief diplomat according to polls, has widely been seen as a millstone around the neck of the FDP, which he has led since 2001.

The pressure on Westerwelle grew in the last month after the FDP failed to clear the five-percent hurdle for representation in two state elections in Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Palatinate and barely squeaked into Baden-Württemberg's legislature.

The southwestern state, among Germany's wealthiest, saw Merkel's conservatives lose power for the first time in nearly six decades.

Although Westerwelle shepherded the party back into government in 2009 after 11 years in the political wilderness, critics say he has an abrasive personality far better suited for sniping from the opposition benches.

Story continues below…

The party has seen a free fall in support starting soon after it joined Merkel's coalition 18 months ago due to bitter infighting in the government over health care, energy and tax policy - the FDP programme's main plank.

A poll released Friday showed that 69 percent of voters blamed Westerwelle for the FDP's disastrous election results of late. The party now has just five percent support nationally.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

13:33 April 3, 2011 by Englishted
Good news ,take the rest with you.
03:19 April 4, 2011 by neunElf
The undiplomatic diplomat!

Good riddance, now sack him from his ministerial position!
09:26 April 4, 2011 by Angry Ami
LOL, well the truth comes out sooner or later, the party is over, next up, the CDU, Angie, Angie your retirement is calling ;-)
Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd