BERLIN (Reuters) - Conservative Michael Glos stood down as Germany’s economy minister to make way for newcomer Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on Monday, dealing a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s preparations for this year’s federal election.
Glos, 64, shocked Merkel at the weekend by tendering his resignation, raising doubts about the country’s future economic policy as it struggles with a deep recession.
Glos, a member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) -- Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats -- initially had his request turned down by CSU party leader Horst Seehofer. However, by Monday Seehofer had relented.
As a replacement, Seehofer said he would propose the 37-year-old Guttenberg, who was little-known nationally until appointed CSU general secretary in November.
Standing alongside Seehofer at a news conference, Guttenberg said he was ready to take on the position.
“We are in one of the greatest crises of the past years, a global crisis,” Guttenberg said, adding that he aimed to bring new strength and resolve to tackling the downturn.
An expert on defense and a member of the lower house’s committee on foreign policy, Guttenberg would be the youngest ever Economy Minister in Germany’s postwar era.
Merkel’s spokesman said the Chancellor had accepted Glos’s resignation. She is due to make a statement on the new Economy Minister at 1515 GMT, the government said.
Glos has been criticized for keeping too low a profile during the global economic crisis, and he was reportedly unhappy with the support he received from Merkel.
The trained miller took on the job at short notice in 2005 when former CSU leader Edmund Stoiber rejected it, and his period in office has been spent in the shadow of Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck, a member of the Social Democrats.
A front page headline from business daily Financial Times Deutschland on Monday summed up his predicament.
“Glos gets his way for the first time,” it wrote.
Writing by Dave Graham
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