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Talk begins about a Guttenberg comeback

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photo: DPA
07:34 CET+01:00
Almost immediately after Defence Minster Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned due to a plagiarism scandal, a number of conservative politicians began expressing their hopes for a comeback. They say Germany needs a political talent like Guttenberg.

"I hope that we keep him as a politician and see his return as soon as possible," Hans-Peter Uhl, the domestic affairs spokesperson of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in parliament, said in the Wednesday edition of the daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

"There are cases of politicians who did much worse things than him and who returned to the political stage."

Peter Altmaier, the Christian Democratic parliamentary whip, also said he can imagine Guttenberg returning to politics in the foreseeable future.

"The number of political talents we have is limited," he told news channel n-tv. "He'll need some time to reflect on things and gather himself. Then he'll decide if he wants to again play a role in our political system."

"If he does, he'll have that opportunity," Altmaier added.

Political comebacks after disgrace are not uncommon in Germany. Current Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble stumbled in 2000 due to a donations scandal. He returned to the political stage in 2005.

Cem Özdemir of the Greens resigned as domestic affairs spokesperson for his party in 2002 in the wake of revelations about the personal use of frequent-flyer miles earned on official trips. Today he is the party's co-chair.

According to political scientist Gerd Langguth from the University of Bonn, Guttenberg will not likely stay out of the public eye for long. He told the Wednesday edition of the Thüringer Allgemeine newspaper that he sees a comeback in about three years.

He said he could imagine Guttenberg following in the footsteps of Horst Seehofer and becoming Bavarian premier or the head of the Christian Social Union (CSU).

Langguth said Guttenberg's "honourable statements" on Tuesday had made such a return feasible.

On Tuesday evening, Chancellor Angela Merkel went on the offensive regarding her defense of the former Minister. She called the opposition's frequent and vocal criticism of Guttenberg during the plagiarism scandal both hypocritical and phony.

"No one needs to explain to us the meaning of fairness and honour," she said at a campaign event for the conservative Christian Democratic Union in Karlsruhe before state elections later this month.

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She said with Guttenberg's resignation, the conservatives had lost a man who had "always touched the hearts of of party members."

Germany's ruling coalition is expected to decide on a new Defence Minister on Wednesday.

DPA/kdj

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