BERLIN Jan 21 The head of Angela Merkel's Free
Democrat (FDP) coalition partners, Economy Minister Philipp
Roesler, offered to step down as party chief on Monday despite a
stronger-than-expected result for the FDP in a weekend state
election, a party source said.
The source said Roesler, who leadership has been criticised
because of the party's slump in national opinion polls to as low
as 2 percent, told a party meeting he was ready to step aside in
favour of FDP parliamentary leader Rainer Bruederle.
There was no indication that Roesler's colleagues were ready
to accept his resignation offer.
The FDP defied forecasts that it would be ejected from the
state assembly in Lower Saxony in Sunday's vote and took 9.9
percent. But that was partly due to Merkel's own Christian
Democrats (CDU) splitting their ballots to save the FDP.