He was standing unopposed so his election was a formality. But that did not dampen the joy for Philipp Roesler as he was overwhelmingly endorsed as the new leader of Germany’s liberals.
Junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition, the Free Democrats are hoping the shake-up will revive their flagging fortunes.
Blamed for the party’s plunging poll ratings, Guido Westerwelle reluctantly stood aside in favour of his erstwhile protege. A Vietnamese war orphan, Roesler, 38, was adopted by a German couple at the age of nine months.
Westerwelle positively beamed as he bowed out. Having previously fought off challengers by saying there was only one captain in charge of the ship, he told the party faithful “that is not me any more.”
Westerwelle remains German Foreign Minister, for now. Fearing a further slump in support, some senior party members.