BERLIN: The leader of Germany’s Free Democrats (FDP) resigned Monday after the party’s worst-ever election defeat, which saw it kicked out of Parliament where it was junior partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
Outgoing Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler, who quit as head of the pro-business party, and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle are among the cabinet members who lost their seats in the party’s ballot box disaster.
“It is the heaviest and worst defeat in the history of the party,” said Roesler, 40, who has also served as economy minister.
The FDP – which had spent more time in governments, always as a junior partner, than any other German party since it was first elected in 1949 – failed to even clear the minimum 5-percent hurdle that is meant to keep out fringe parties.
Roesler and a dejected top candidate Rainer Bruederle, 68, had both declared Sunday they would “take the political consequences.”
The FDP’s young new hope is Christian Lindner, 34, a former general secretary who now leads the party in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Lindner will likely be elected as the new leader at a party conference later this year and he vowed Monday he would seek “to win back respect” for the FDP.
The FDP, known as the Liberals, has gradually shifted its focus since the end of the Cold War from political liberalism and a defence of individual freedoms to economic liberalism and the defense of free market capitalism.