The German foreign minister says he would quit as party chief of the Free Democrats (FDP) next month, a move that would sap his power in the coalition government.
Guido Westerwelle's decision comes after heavy criticism following his party's poor showing in recent state elections, a Press TV correspondent reported Monday.
“There is no need to embellish the truth. This day is utterly disappointing for the liberals; for the FDP. We now need to draw the conclusions of this defeat,” said Westerwelle.
Westerwelle's party in the coalition government -- led by Chancellor Angela Merkel -- suffered three damaging defeats in state elections in the past few days.
If the current Health Minister Philip Roesler becomes Westerwelle's successor, he will also assume the role of vice-chancellor -- a post that Westerwelle has agreed to leave as well.
Another contender for the post is 32-year-old Christian Lindner, current Secretary General of the FDP.
“It is unquestionable that the FDP is currently in a difficult situation. And this is why a new course [of action] is being taken, initiated by Guido Westerwelle himself,” said Lindner.
FDP members say lack of strong successors is the major problem facing the party, while the opposition wants Westerwelle to resign as foreign minister as well.
“How can a politician who has lost all authority in his own party continue to believe he can represent Germany in foreign affairs?” said Claudia Roth, chairwoman of the Green Party.
Public support for Free Democrats took a further lashing after the party joined forces with Merkel's coalition 18 months ago under intense wrangling in government over healthcare, energy and tax policy.
According to a new poll released on Friday, 69 percent of voters pinned the bulk of the blame on Westerwelle for the FDP's disastrous results in recent regional elections.