The surprise Wednesday resignation of Lindner – whose exact reasons remain a mystery – left the pro-business party reeling not long after the major leaderhsip reshuffle that followed the resignation of ex-chairman Guido Westerwelle in May.
By picking Döring within hours, Rösler, who is vice chancellor and economy minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition, was trying to stave off the impression that the FDP was imploding.
Deputy leader Holger Zastrow told Die Zeit newspaper that the quick appointment had proven Rösler’s “determination and his readiness to act,” before adding, “The attack department of the FDP has a fresh, new face in General Secretary Patrick Döring.”
Rösler’s choice of Döring was also seen as an attempt to shore up his own support in the ailing party. Döring has been a Bundestag MP since 2005, and a deputy leader of the FDP since 2010. He’s also believed to be a close ally of Rösler and well-connected in the party.
The FDP, tanking in the opinion polls (Forsa currently has the government’s junior coalition partner at just three percent), has met both internal and external criticism for its youth-first policy in choosing leaders.
According to Mainz-based political analyst Jürgen Falter, the FDP’s desperate situation is the result of a “fatal mix” of the “wrong issues and the wrong personnel.” “The FDP’s problem is that they don’t have the faintest trace of an answer to the financial crisis and the subsequently discredited deregulation of the economy,” Falter told the Saarbrücker Zeitung.
The FDP’s so-called “boygroup” – all directly or indirectly promoted by Westerwelle – has so far failed to catch the sympathy of the German population. Apart from 32-year-old Lindner and 38-year-old Rösler, the baby-faced circle includes 35-year-old Daniel Bahr, German health minister since May.
Some internal critics have been louder than others.
Ulrich Goll, 61 years old and former FDP justice minister in Baden-Württemberg, told the Stuttgarter Zeitung on Wednesday, “At the end of the day, Christian Lindner has given up because he hasn’t achieved his aims. But that doesn’t just go for him. That which we jokingly call the FDP boygroup has so far failed to gain a foothold.”
Asked whether this was Rösler’s last chance, Goll had a monosyllabic answer: “Yes.”