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Germany

Guttenberg Sworn In as Economics Minister

The changing of the guard at Germany's economics ministry was completed with the swearing in of political rising star Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on Thursday. His predecessor stepped down unexpectedly last week.

Guttenberg shaking hands with Angela Merkel

Merkel welcomed Guttenberg to the team

The 37-year-old Guttenberg, a member of Bavaria's Christian Social Union party, took his oath of office in parliament on Thursday. Guttenberg replaces the prior economics minister, Michael Glos, who unexpectedly submitted his resignation on Saturday, Feb. 7.

The youngest economics minister to date, Guttenberg was officially named by German President Horst Koehler on Tuesday.

By choosing Guttenberg only seven months before the general elections in September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the CDU party, and CSU chief Horst Seehofer hope to put an end to months of bickering and internal power struggles within the conservative bloc.

Eager for the job

The previous economics minister, Glos, had clashed with Merkel by demanding tax cuts to encourage spending and condemning the government's stimulus package.

Shortly after he was first named to replace Glos, Guttenberg said he was eager to take-on a new role.

"We are now going through a phase that demands energy and passion in economic policy," he said.

Guttenberg -- who officially carries the title "Baron" before his name -- is heir to an old Bavrian fortune. He has managed his family's insulation business, but his lack of expertise in economic policy has has drawn criticism from CDU veterans within Merkel's own party.

To critics who say he is a foreign policy man without expertise in economics, he added that he has "developed a passion" for the task ahead of him.

As economics minister, Guttenberg would still be overshadowed by the more politically important finance ministry led by Social Democrat Peer Steinbrueck, but will face tremendous pressure in weathering the recession in the countdown to the elections in September.

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