February 17, 2012 / 1:38 PM / 7 years ago

Timeline: Exodus of top Merkel allies from power

(Reuters) - German President Christian Wulff’s resignation on Friday is a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel, many of whose senior political and economic allies have resigned in the past two years.

Wulff’s departure amid allegations about his finances and accepting favors is embarrassing for Merkel, who hand-picked him for the largely ceremonial post in 2010.

She risks looking increasingly isolated ahead of federal elections in 2013.

Following is a timeline of influential officials who have resigned since Merkel started her second term as chancellor.

November 2009 - Labor minister and senior Merkel ally Franz Josef Jung resigned after being accused of covering up details of an air strike that killed civilians in Afghanistan when he was defense minister.

May 2010 - German President Horst Koehler unexpectedly resigned after a wave of criticism over his comments about military action abroad.

May 2010 - Hesse state premier Roland Koch, long seen as a rising star in Merkel’s CDU party with ambitions for higher office, said he was quitting politics.

June 2010 - Juergen Ruettgers, a powerful CDU leader, announced he was quitting politics after failing to win re-election as premier in Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia in May.

July 2010 - Hamburg’s popular conservative mayor Ole van Beust resigned abruptly after nine years running Germany’s second-largest city.

— Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) were then swept from power in the regional election in Hamburg in February 2011, in their worst defeat since World War Two.

February 2011 - Bundesbank President Axel Weber told Merkel he would step down as head of the central bank a year before his term ended, formally ending his chances of becoming the next president of the European Central Bank.

— His resignation was widely seen in Berlin as a blow to Merkel and her drive to see a German replace Jean-Claude Trichet when his term as president of the ECB ends in October.

March 2011 - Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned after admitting to copying part of a doctoral dissertation, seeking to end an escalating scandal.

— Guttenberg was the most popular member of Merkel’s cabinet and his loss was a severe setback to her conservatives.

April 2011 - Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle stepped down as head of the Free Democrats (FDP), Merkel’s coalition allies, after the party suffered a string of state election failures.

— The FDP then picked 38-year-old health minister Philipp Roesler as leader but the party remains weak and Merkel’s conservatives may have to find another partner if she is re-elected in 2013.

September 2011 - ECB Executive Board member Juergen Stark became the second German to resign over the central bank’s bond buying program.

December 14 - FDP general secretary and rising star Christian Lindner resigned.

February 17 - President Christian Wulff resigned after state prosecutors asked parliament to remove his legal immunity over accusations he accepted favors.

Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Sophie Hares

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