An extract on #carsdaily
In the national vote on 27 September 2009 the FDP increased its share of the vote by 4.8 percentage points to 14.6%, an all-time record so far. This percentage was enough to offset a decline in the CDU/CSU's vote compared to 2005, to create a CDU-FDP governing coalition in the Bundestag with a 53% majority of seats. On election night, party leader Westerwelle said his party would work to ensure that civil liberties were respected and that Germany got an "equitable tax system and better education opportunities".
The party also made gains in the two state elections held at the same time, acquiring sufficient seats for a CDU-FDP coalition in the northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein, and gaining enough votes in left leaning Brandenburg to clear the 5% hurdle to enter that state's parliament.
However, after reaching its best ever election result in 2009, the FDP's support collapsed. The partys policy pledges were put on hold by Merkel as the recession of 2009 unfolded and with the onset of the European debt crisis in 2010. By the end of 2010, the party's support had dropped to as low as 5%. The FDP retained their seats in the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, which was held six months after the federal election, but out of the seven state elections that have been held since 2009, the FDP have lost all their seats in five of them due to failing to cross the 5% threshold.
Support for the party further eroded amid infighting and an internal rebellion over euro-area bailouts during the debt crisis.
Westerwelle stepped down as party leader in 2011 after the party was wiped out in both Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as losing half its seats in Baden-Wrttemberg. He was replaced on 13 May 2011 by Philipp Rsler. The change in leadership failed to revive the FDP's fortunes, however, and in the next series of state elections, the party lost all its seats in Bremen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Berlin. In Berlin, the party lost nearly 75% of the support they had had in the previous election.
In March 2012, the FDP lost all their seats in Saarland. However, this was averted in the Schleswig-Holstein state elections, when they achieved 8% of the vote, which was a severe loss of seats but still over the 5% threshold. In the snap elections in North Rhine-Westphalia a week later, the FDP not only crossed the threshold, but also increased its share of the votes to 2 percentage points higher than in the previous state election. This was attributed to the local leadership of Christian Lindner.