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Guttenberg resigns

The Local · 1 Mar 2011, 15:25

Published: 01 Mar 2011 10:43 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Mar 2011 15:25 GMT+01:00

"It’s the most painful decision of my life," Guttenberg said at a hastily arranged press conference in Berlin. "The reason is I am no longer certain I can carry out the high responsibility of my office."

The conservative minister had informed Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff earlier of his intention to step down.

“I was always prepared to fight, but I reached the limits of my strength,” he said.

His resignation marks the final chapter of a scandal that brought down Germany's most popular politician.

When accusations Guttenberg plagiarized parts of his dissertation surfaced nearly two weeks ago, the minister initially played down the matter, calling the allegations “abstruse.” But just days later he dropped his Dr. title, admitting that he made “serious errors,” though unintentionally.

Guttenberg's alma mater, the University of Bayreuth, later officially stripped the 39-year-old political shooting star of his law doctorate.

However, Guttenberg on Tuesday made clear he was not stepping down due to the plagiarism affair, but rather because the scandal was deflecting from the reform of the German military and the challenges faced by the nation's soldiers.

"There has been a dramatic shift in the attention of the public and the media," he said, referring to how the recent death of troops in Afghanistan had been overshadowed. "When this is at the expense of the soldiers I can no longer justify it."

The Bavarian aristocrat personally thanked Merkel, who had faced increasing criticism for her support of Guttenberg in recent days.

Photobucket

Click here for Guttenberg’s career in photos.

In an interview published on Tuesday morning, Saxony's former premier, Kurt Biedenkopf of Merkel's own Christian Democratic party (CDU), slammed the chancellor's observation that she had not appointed Guttenberg as an academic researcher to her cabinet, but as defence minister.

"The entire person has to be gauged, not just the office. And a person can't be split in two," he said. He echoed Bundestag speaker Norbert Lammert, also of the CDU, who called the plagiarism affair the "nail in the coffin" of the credibility of Germany's political class.

Voices from the world of academia had also grown increasingly critical of Guttenberg and Merkel. Oliver Lepsius, a legal scholar at the University of Bayreuth, where Guttenberg originally got his doctorate, demanded the Minister's resignation.

"The academic community cannot accept these kinds of practices," he said. "If there are no consequences from the chancellor or the federal government, the relationship between science and politics is going to suffer appreciable damage."

Story continues below…

Merkel on Tuesday afternoon said she had accepted the defence minister's resignation with "a heavy heart" and that she would appoint his successor shortly after conferring with her Bavarian CSU allies.

"I deeply regret his resignation, but I also have understanding for his personal decision," she said.

But Guttenberg's departure will deprive the chancellor of his star power as her conservatives face six state elections this year.

"This is a big loss for Angela Merkel," political scientist Gero Neugebauer told news agency AFP. "She is losing an important election campaigner ... Nobody else can excite the same level of interest and excitement."

The Local/DAPD/DPA/mry/ka/kdj

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Your comments about this article

11:01 March 1, 2011 by Johnne
That´s what I call democracy with dignity. Karl-Theodor made the right decision. We look forward to the press conference.
11:06 March 1, 2011 by storymann
Took longer than it should have considering all the outrage ,but a good decision never the less.

Now he has time to earn the title.
11:24 March 1, 2011 by Krim
I think Guttenberg resignation is the best thing for him. He should have done it earlier and avoided a lot of damage to his reputation. However, his resignation is just a part of the solution to a much bigger problem. German universities and corruption?

How can this happen?

What are the lessons to be learned about the relations between the academic world and politics in this country?

I think the Guttenberg affair will have a positive impact by opening a debate on the interference and influence of politics on the academic world. This affair was just the tip of the iceberg.
11:27 March 1, 2011 by Beca
Step down is the best decision he could make.

He lost his credentials as PhD and more important his credibility, at least he can save his dignity.
11:32 March 1, 2011 by Krim
Next station: European parliament ( Hinterhof)
11:56 March 1, 2011 by idiot
quote Krim:

> What are the lessons to be learned about the relations between the academic world and politics in this country?

That money is all in a capitalistic world. What a new knowledge ...
11:57 March 1, 2011 by The-ex-pat
11:32 March 1, 2011 by Krim

Next station: European parliament ( Hinterhof)

With all the perks and trimmings that MEP's can milk from that system, he can forget the Doctor title. After a year he can retire and never have to work again. Saying that, it would be rather fitting. The EU's finances are so corrupt the overseeing body has refused to sign them off for the last 14 years. He would be in good company.
12:10 March 1, 2011 by Portnoy
Oh Jesus I just watched his crappy speech. He's not resigning because he copied his thesis, but because you horrible, awful people have pushed him to the brink - he has no energy left to fight.

The poor, poor baron.
12:15 March 1, 2011 by freechoice
This is no good...

However, Guttenberg on Tuesday made clear he was not stepping down due to the plagiarism affair, but rather because the scandal was deflecting from the reform of the German military and the challenges faced by the nation's soldiers.
12:17 March 1, 2011 by munchingmuschiinmünchen
Schade, dass Herr (DR) zu Guttenberg muss raus!
12:52 March 1, 2011 by Sam80
the Poor one! Should we carry a whip round ?!
13:06 March 1, 2011 by petegunn
Now, we must scrutinize all degree holders. It is only fair. Right?
13:28 March 1, 2011 by Surferjoe
The question is why this took so long. Guttenberg brought shame on himself, his party, his university, academia in europe and germany. When the scandal came to light why was the former minister endured for even 1 day? Each day Guttenberg remained on the job was a deeper disgrace.
13:47 March 1, 2011 by idiot
> When the scandal came to light why was the former minister endured for even 1 day?

Fail.

Slowly but surely your lies go me on the nerves, in german for you.

Du gehts mir auf den Sack mit deinem inkompetenten Gelaber und Lügengeschichten. Wenn du keine Ahnung hast, dann solltest du einfach mal die Fresse halten.

The Kundus Checkup needed 7 Months not 1 day.
13:58 March 1, 2011 by Krim
I love this one from Spiegel online.

Copy, paste, delete
14:01 March 1, 2011 by wenddiver
With the country at war in Afganistan and sending Naval ships into the war zone in Libiya, they picked a very ignorant time to get rid of a very successful Secretary of Defence. Using this logic Great Britain should have fired Winston Churchill, because he drank Whiskey every day and slept in the middle of the day. Who cares about titles except pepole who have titles, but no achievements.
14:19 March 1, 2011 by Krim
You mean fake achievement or you are missing the point.
14:19 March 1, 2011 by federicoscala
Last chapter of the saga: "Germans & their obsession for qualifications"
14:28 March 1, 2011 by Surferjoe
I'm getting on your nerves Idiot? Thats a sure sign that my points are well taken - thanks for the compliment!
14:48 March 1, 2011 by Gilly58
now now boys...everybody stay calm. The Q is now, how can M's government continue to fly the flag with more state elections this year. Me thinks that this will have serious consequences in an already shaky coalition.
15:03 March 1, 2011 by idiot
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
15:07 March 1, 2011 by ECSNatale
The main point is, someone who did something wrong has now stepped down. In the US, someone who does something wrong gets 24/7 media attention and is turned into a bigger star than they already were. We, as a society have to decide if integrity means anything or not... whether Germany lost a bright mind in politics is less important than the lessen it shows to young people that cheating and lies are no something to aspire to, but something that can end your career.

I may have liked aspects of Guttenberg's ideas, and disagreed with others, but what I respect is that Germany still values reality enough to be outraged when someone flying high got there in a shady way.
16:07 March 1, 2011 by hanskarl
@ ECSNatale I agree.

Now perhaps Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who now may have much time on his hands, can take a one or two year sabbatical and can go back and earn the Doctorate the proper way. That would show the people integrity and the right character.
16:26 March 1, 2011 by TylerBryant
"The main point is, someone who did something wrong has now stepped down. In the US, someone who does something wrong gets 24/7 media attention and is turned into a bigger star than they already were. We, as a society have to decide if integrity means anything or not... whether Germany lost a bright mind in politics is less important than the lessen it shows to young people that cheating and lies are no something to aspire to, but something that can end your career.

I may have liked aspects of Guttenberg's ideas, and disagreed with others, but what I respect is that Germany still values reality enough to be outraged when someone flying high got there in a shady way."

Well said.
17:39 March 1, 2011 by toemag
Didn't Frau Merkel have to resign as the environment minister at one point?
19:07 March 1, 2011 by Major B
Plaigarism is wrong, period. Leaders who cheat and get caught pay the price. In my studies and many papers, I just had too much academic pride to not give credit where it was due.Now, I really want to know honestly of all the detractors and criticizers of Herr Guttenberg, just how many can say they haven't cheated. Honestly.

Germany lost a star. A brilliant, masterful international politician who could have served Germany well and made it proud. Instead, a horde of jealous noisy pretenders, whose REAL motives were to whine, complain, and be HEARD, have won the day. And your country loses. Be proud of yourselves and bring back on the typical bland bla bla poltician. Maybe you'll never be ready for a trully gifted and charismatic politician again. Is that the real FEAR over somebody like Guttenberg? Dull grey and green.
19:13 March 1, 2011 by TRJ
His path to redemption: take a few interviews; acknowledge his missteps with his thesis strategy as well as his missteps when the story came to light; express remorse; beg to be accepted to a university again; take the years necessary to earn the doctorate; subject it to rigorous scrutiny along the way; begin to write political editorials after working on the new thesis for a few years to maintain a loose connection to the political arena; complete the doctorate with accolades from the university after exhaustive review; dive full force back into politics older, wiser and able to trumpet a comeback that involved conquering his past transgressions. Then become a humble, but confident (not cocky) Chancellor.

In return for this roadmap to success- all I ask of KTzG is admission to any tent of my choosing during Oktoberfest.
19:57 March 1, 2011 by Landmine
I think Germany, in its lust for blood and gossip, will be loosing a good politician...
21:00 March 1, 2011 by Nemo2010
He will be back. On that you can count. He has yet a place in history...
21:20 March 1, 2011 by Talonx
@ Landmine

It's not gossip, he's a cheat and that's a fact, their is no dispute.

P.s. a good politician is the worse kind.
22:57 March 1, 2011 by maxbrando
I think the lesson to be learned from this is,that as in America, cheating pays.
00:40 March 2, 2011 by chicagolive
This had nothing to do with cheating this was just the cover. It is mostly about the fact that he was very popular, liked, and charismatic politician something the germans have been running from since Hitler since they fear this will lead down that path. The problem with that thinking is that Hitler came to pass because their was no good thinking charismatic politician at the moment. Germany is making the same mistake they made then the youth are looking for a leader to make them proud of being German.

The politicians are doing everything they can to stop that, so what will happen the exact wrong person will be able to step in and give this national pride that the youth here so desperately want to have,
05:29 March 2, 2011 by hOU
^ Oh, I'm lovin' the Hitler angle you go going there Olive :P

Loved every minute of the sho! My only regret is not videoing it all from-the-off so I could watch it while taking a sh@t in the morning.

Can someone fix me up w/ a DVD?

Now for that ghastly haridan of a wife.
09:54 March 3, 2011 by EVANGELIST, MICHAEL J FRANCIS
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
18:35 March 4, 2011 by louier
It seems to me that every time there is a politician who is charismatic, popular, and quite liked, there are always trying to find a way to knock him/her down, because the government believes that such person will lead Germany the wrong way. I truly think this is the story behind Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. Yes, he may have done something wrong, but, he was man enough to accept this. I just don¦#39;t understand was the way the government kept on with this ¦quot;witch hunt¦quot;. This is beyond me. As an American living in Germany and I do follow politics, I believe the resignation of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was a mistake. He was pushed to a corner, with no way out and no support!

P.S. BTW… Does Ex Chancellor Schroeder still working for the Russian gas pipe? I thought I just throw that in….
14:54 March 10, 2011 by A South African Lady
I think Karl-Thedor zu Guttenberg had to be made to resign at all costs, as he was a threat to the establishment, who probably weren't able to buy or bribe him. It seems most politicians have a skeleton in the cupboard that can be rattled by their money backers, Which is why he got no support. Most politicians have to do as they are told or have their faults exposed to the hungry stone throwing rabble who live in glass houses. His enemies succeeded in getting him to resign and they must be rubbing their hands with glee. I wonder how many logs his detractors have in their own eyes....and that also goes for all the blind brain dead hordes who are always 'looking for a witch to burn". Germany and its peoples loss I'm afraid. What a Shame!
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