The resignation of conservative Michael Glos as economy minister over the weekend surprised Germany. Now it seems he quit because he was upset at the direction Germany's conservative chancellor was taking.
Glos had some not very nice words for Merkel
According to leaked excerpts from an article scheduled to run in the Muenchner Merkur newspaper on Wednesday, Feb. 11, Glos' sudden departure was anything but amicable.
The report contains a number critical remarks that Glos allegedly made about Chancellor Angela Merkel at a meeting of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's CDU, on Monday.
"She always believed I didn't have a clue about a lot of things," Glos is quoted as saying.
Glos also reportedly accused the chancellor of cozying up to Social Democratic members of her Cabinet.
"She hangs on the words of [SPD] Finance Minister [Peer] Steinbrueck, who needs to write out every sentence he says," Glos allegedly complained.
On Tuesday, the former head of the CSU, Guenther Beckstein, told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that Glos had "deserved more support from everyone concerned."
The criticism comes amid worries that the grand coalition government Merkel leads does not have a clear orientation concerning either economic policies or the personnel required to implement them.
In tough economic times, voters want clear economic plans
The report is due to appear a day after members of Merkel's own party openly speculated about the ability of Glos' successor from the CSU, 37-year-old Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, to handle the job during the ongoing economic crisis.
The conservatives' parliamentary financial expert Otto Bernhardt even suggested that Guttenbeg's appointment reflected deeper problems in the party.
"This personnel decision once again shows that the (CDU) is poorly equipped when it comes to economic expertise," Bernhardt told the Bild newspaper. "We lack young politicians with an aura of economic competence."
Serious doubts have been raised about Guttenberg's qualifications
The discussions surrounding Glos' departure and Guttenberg's appointment illustrate the political difficulties Merkel faces trying to govern with a grand coalition.
On the one hand, she's being forced to counter complaints from conservatives, who tend to favor laissez-faire economic policies, that she's given too much ground to Social Democrats on policies such as the recent stimulus package.
In a Tuesday radio interview, for example, the conservatives' parliamentary spokesman for middle-class affairs, Michael Fuchs, called upon the chancellor to reign in the government's involvement in the economy.
Yet being conciliatory toward demands made by the CSU, which is traditionally more conservative than the CDU, opens up Merkel to attacks from the left-wing opposition.
In a television interview on Monday, Green parliamentary leader Fritz Kuhn asked: "Is the chancellor leading the way or is a regional party making decisions on the question of who is our economy minister in times of economic crisis?"
Attacks from both sides of the political spectrum could be a serious problem for the chancellor in a general election year in which voters will surely demand economic solutions from the parties vying for power.
The most recent public-opinion polls show that Merkel's approval rating is slightly dipping, and faith in the conservatives' ability to solve Germany's problems likewise declining.