The leader of Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) survived a confidence vote on Friday after this week’s election of a liberal state premier with far-right support.
Christian Lindner called for an internal vote on his leadership amid nationwide outrage over the result of Wednesday’s vote in the eastern German state of Thuringia. The election of FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich marked the first time in Germany’s postwar history that a state premier had been installed with the help of the far right.
German media reported that 33 FDP board members voted for Lindner’s continued leadership, while one voted against. Two members abstained.
At a subsequent press conference in Berlin, Lindner said he was grateful for his party’s support and expressed regret that events in Thuringia had “triggered doubts concerning the political orientation” of the FDP.
He also sought to disassociate the FDP from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), saying: “The AfD promotes exclusion, while we promote tolerance … The AfD promotes isolation, while we promote cosmopolitanism.”
Acknowledging “misjudgement,” Lindner said his party had intended to install a “politician of the political center,” a plan that was “turned into its exact opposite in a catastrophic way” when the AfD abandoned its own candidate to vote for the FDP politician in order to prevent a leftist from becoming state premier.
He added that had not expected that “a party would go so low as to propose a candidate for the sake of appearance, only to then vote for a different one.”