Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a rising star in German politics, will be Germany's next economy minister. He will have the unenviable task of guiding Germany out of a deep recession.
Guttenberg will play a key role in turning around Germany's economy
Guttenberg, 37, was named the head of Germany's Economy Ministry on Monday, Feb. 9, eight months before the German general election. His official appointment will come on Tuesday.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) hopes that Guttenberg will be a fresh face for the September elections. They also hope the political wunderkind will bring fresh ideas on dealing with Germany's economic troubles.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Guttenberg's "large international spectrum of experience," which she said would stand him in good stead for his role in dealing with the international economic crisis.
"He has taken over a challenging job at a time when we must continue to battle the international economic crisis," Merkel told reporters, adding that the incoming minister would receive her full support.
Michael Glos said he wants out of the spotlight
Guttenberg is to replace Michael Glos, 64, who unexpectedly announced Saturday his desire to leave his post after tension with Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer, the leader of both men's Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's CDU.
Glos reportedly fell out of favor with Merkel, in part for demanding quick tax cuts to try and kickstart the German economy -- something Merkel had repeatedly ruled out. Glos was also criticized recently for his reluctance to go ahead with a costly stimulus package.
Merkel said she nonetheless regretted the outgoing minister's decision to step down and thanked him for his work.
"Michael Glos always had a big heart for small and medium-size businesses," Merkel said of the minister's three years in office.
A lot of hopes are being placed on the 37-year-old
The shakeup could not come at a worse time for Merkel, who has begun to prepare for what is expected to be a hard-fought electoral race against the Social Democratic Party.
The CDU and SPD are currently in an uncomfortable grand coalition. And the SPD's candidate for chancellor, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, upped his criticism of Merkel in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine.
Merkel and her allies were "incapable of finding the right way to face the (economic) crisis," Steinmeier said.
Bavarian aristocrat Guttenberg
Guttenberg is a trained lawyer from Franconia in northern Bavaria
The bad news shows no signs of letting up for Europe's largest economy, which slid into a recession towards the end of last year. On Monday, Germany announced that its export sector was down sharply in December.
Guttenberg was elected in 2002 as a member of parliament in Berlin and rose to become the CSU's spokesman there on disarmament and arms control. He is currently general secretary of the CSU and has shown a deft hand in dealing with the media.
A Bavarian aristocrat whose entire name is Baron Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg, the soon-to-be minister's grandfather and namesake was also a CSU politician.
Sources in the party bloc comprising the CSU and Merkel's Christian Democratic Union told DPA news agency that Guttenberg's post as general secretary would be taken over by a federal legislator Alexander Dobrindt, 38.
In a two-day political crisis, Seehofer initially rejected Glos' resignation bid and told him he would have to remain in office until after the Sept. 27 general election, but then changed his mind.
The terms of the CDU-CSU coalition partnership grant Bavaria's CSU the right to nominate the country's economy minister. German President Horst Koehler has said he will officially sign off on Guttenberg's nomination on Tuesday.