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Westerwelle Resigns Party Leadership

Westerwelle Resigns Party Leadership

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Guido Westerwelle, the gay foreign minister of Germany, resigned his post as leader of the Free Democrats party following a string of election defeats that have threatened the center-right coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

According to Der Spiegel, Westerwelle announced Sunday that he would step down as the leader of the business-friendly Free Democrats. On Tuesday the party selected Vietnamese-born health minister Philipp Rosler to replace him, with an official vote set for next month during the party conference.

"Westerwelle led the FDP to its best-ever general election results in September 2009 when it scored 14.6 percent of the vote, enabling the party to enter government as junior partner to Merkel's conservatives," reports Der Spiegel. "But he has also been blamed for the party's poor performance since then, and for its dramatic slide in opinion polls, culminating in disastrous losses in three major state elections -- in Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Wurttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate -- last month."

Westerwelle also said he would step down as vice chancellor. He will retain his foreign minister post though doubts exist about his future in the role at a critical time for German diplomacy.

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