German Foreign Minister Westerwelle steps down as German Vice Chancellor

April 5th, 2011 - 1:22 am ICT by BNO News  

BERLIN, GERMANY (BNO NEWS) — German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced his decision to step down as Vice Chancellor as well as leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), DPA news agency reported on Monday.

Westerwelle announced on Sunday his decision to renounce his role as FDP leader and the party’s lead candidate for the upcoming general election in 2013. However, he will remain as Foreign Minister.

“After 10 years as party chairman, I will not run for the office again at the coming federal party congress,” said Westerwelle.

The FDP informed on Monday that the next party leader would likely be the candidate for the general election as well. Health Minister Philipp Roesler, 38, and FDP Secretary General Christian Lindner, 32, are the two main options.

Any leadership candidate nominated by the board must be officially voted into office by FDP members at their party conference in May in Rostock. FDP has witnessed a dramatic drop in its popularity after joining the ruling coalition.

“The FDP has suffered an unparalleled loss of credibility since they re-entered the government in 2009, and their misery is due to one person: Westerwelle,” said Manfred G├╝llner, head of the Forsa polling institute.

FDP is the junior coalition partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. However, the coalition led by Christian Democrats party (CDU) has been under fire culminating in last month’s two losses in state elections.

“We must correct mistakes made in the past and set new priorities,” Daniel Bahr, FDP regional party leader in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. “A change in personnel is not enough. We have to discuss the entire line-up.”

In addition, the three opposition parties in Germany, the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left, have called for Westerwelle to resign from the Foreign Ministry as well.

In March, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned after being involved in a plagiarism scandal over his PhD thesis. He was a close ally of Merkel and her apparent successor within the CDU ranks.

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