“There are moments where one has to make way in order to make new a dynamic possible,” Lindner said in a statement. “My realisation led to the consequence that I relinquish my office out of respect for my party and my engagement for the liberal cause.”
The move is another blow to the beleaguered pro-business party, which is the junior partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in her centre-right coalition.
The 32-year-old Lindner faced growing pressure in recent days for attempting to torpedo an internal party vote against Germany’s support for the euro rescue fund known as the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Both Lindner and FDP chairman Philipp Rösler, who is also economy minister and vice chancellor, declared over the weekend that the motion had failed to reach a necessary quorum even before the deadline had run out.
Lindner had also heavily criticised the initiator of the anti-ESM vote, parliamentarian Frank Schäffler. “He’s sort of like the David Cameron of the FDP,” Lindner recently told the Hamburger Abendblatt, making a derisive comparison to the eurosceptical prime minister of Britain.
And FDP boss Rösler on Wednesday emphasised there would be no anti-European shift under his leadership.
“Those in the ranks of the FDP that want to change the terms underpinning the rescue of the euro will not be successful,” he told the Passauer Neue Presse.
He also said he was confident he would remain FDP chairman even though the party continued to wallow at all-time lows in opinion polls. A survey released on Wednesday by Stern magazine showed the Free Democrats garnering just three percent – below the threshold necessary to win seats in parliament.
“I’m certain the FDP will return to its old strength in 2012,” Rösler said.