The Christian Social Democrat (CSU) is said to be furious about the move by Angela Merkel’s office, according to the cover story of the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on Sunday.
Although he would only tell the paper, “Such events can hardly be commented upon,” it reports that he has repeatedly ‘told friends’ that he is considering resigning his position.
The evidence Guttenberg gave to a parliamentary committee over the bombing of two petrol tankers which had been stolen in Afghanistan not far from a German base was checked by the interior and justice ministries on instruction from the chancellery – without his knowledge, the paper said.
His evident unhappiness compounds other problems within the coalition between Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party the CSU and their junior coalition allies, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP).
There are tensions between all three strands of the government, with the CSU opposing the FDP over health care finance proposals, disagreements between the CDU and CSU over such issues as the potential scrapping of military service, and increasing support among all three groupings for the opposition’s presidential candidate Joachim Gauck, over Merkel’s choice of Christian Wulff. Trouble within the CDU itself was epitomised by the recent resignation by Hesse state premier Roland Koch.
Some CDU ministers are considering the possibility of ending the current coalition and setting up another with the FDP and Green Party, although whether that is feasible or not is another question.
“Either we get things sorted out in Berlin or it will soon be over for the coalition,” Jörg-Uwe Hahn, head of the FDP in Hessen, told the FAZ.
He harshly criticised the coalition, saying the CDU was not trying hard enough to work with the FDP and was not taking the junior government partner seriously.
Public faith in the coalition is looking shaky too, with a poll published at the weekend showing more than half of Germans do not expect the current government to complete its term in office.
The survey conducted by Infratest-dimap pollsters showed 53 percent of Germans expecting the coalition to break up, with just 40 percent believing it will continue to finish its elected term.
The latest package of budgetary cuts announced by the government are seen by 79 percent socially unfair, with 67 percent in favour of increasing the top rate of tax for those earning more than €250,000 from 45 percent to 47 percent.