(Updates with details, analysts comment, background)
By Erik Kirschbaum
BERLIN, March 1 German Defence Minister
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg will resign on Tuesday, a government
source told Reuters.
Earlier, Bild newspaper reported that Guttenberg would step
down. A spokesman for the minister did not comment on the
report. He said Guttenberg would give a statement at 11:15 a.m.
Guttenberg, the most popular member of Chancellor Angela
Merkel's cabinet, has been embroiled in a plagiarism row. Merkel
had defended Guttenberg and analysts said he was important for
conservative party hopes in three state elections later this
For an analysis on Merkel and Guttenberg: [nLDE71R1HDT]
He was stripped of his doctorate after admitting last week
his PhD dissertation was flawed. He apologised to parliament
after being accused of copying parts of the dissertation without
He had rejected charges of plagiarism and opposition calls
to resign over the affair, which has dominated headlines and
television chat shows for the last week.
Merkel had backed Guttenberg. Opposition leaders said she
did not fire him over fears it would anger conservative voters,
especially in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
"It's bad for Merkel and she stuck with him far too long,"
said Konrad Jarausch, a political scientist at Berlin's Free
University. "It's a major about-face for her. There will be some
damage to her too over this."
Guttenberg, 39, has long been the most popular minister in
Merkel's cabinet. But the aristocrat's popularity was based on
his carefully nurtured image for honesty and integrity. German
media have found scores of copied passages in his dissertation.
He said he made mistakes but not deliberately.
In recent days some conservatives distanced themselves.
Education minister Annette Schavan on Monday called Guttenberg's
actions shameful and parliamentary president Norbert Lammert
said it was "a nail in the coffin for confidence in democracy".
(Additional reporting by Annika Breidthardt and John
Stonestreet; Editing by Peter Graff)