German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a surprise blow from her party’s MPs, who rejected her choice of caucus leader.
Volker Kauder, Merkel’s right-hand man in the Bundestag, was voted out and replaced with fiscal conservative Ralph Brinkhaus in a move that highlights dissatisfaction with the Chancellor’s policies.
Even though Merkel's critics have downplayed the vote’s impact on the Chancellor, Kauder’s failure to win the vote reflects the current turmoil in the governing coalition that is undermining support for Merkel’s government.
Last week Angela Merkel dismissed the head of Germany's BfV domestic intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen, for playing down recent violence in the eastern city of Chemnitz over the murder of a local resident by two alleged migrants from the Middle East.
Maassen questioned the authenticity of video footage of right-wing protesters chasing migrants in the streets of Chemnitz.
Public support for Merkel’s coalition government of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats fell to historic lows in last year’s election, with a recent poll showing that a mere 28 percent of respondents approved of the government policies, while the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany, or AfD, enjoyed record 18 percent support.