German economics minister offers to resign

February 8th, 2009 - 12:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Berlin/Munich, Feb 8 (DPA) In a surprise move, German Economics Minister Michael Glos offered to resign Saturday, less that eight months before the country votes in a general election, but the offer was promptly turned down by his party boss.
In a letter to Christian Social Union (CSU) leader Horst Seehofer, the 64-year-old Glos cited age reasons and the need for the CSU, after disappointing state election results last fall, to renew itself ahead of next fall’s general elections.

The development was initially reported by the Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag which had obtained a copy of the letter, and then sources close to the minister confirmed it and said he had informed Chancellor Angela Merkel of his intention.

But in Munich, CSU party leader and Bavarian state Prime Minister Seehofer said he would not grant Glos his request to resign.

“Michael Glos has my trust. I have told Michael Glos by telephone that I am not agreeing to his request,” Seehofer said through a spokesman.

Seehofer said he would hold “personal talks” with Glos in order to discuss the reasons which the economics minister had cited in his letter offering to resign.

The CSU is the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). Glos has headed the economics ministry since November 2005 when Merkel took office in a grand coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

The CSU lost its absolute majority in Bavarian state elections last September and was forced to seek a coalition with the business-oriented Free Democrats (FDP).

After the election setback, “renewal, creative power and credibility are needed more urgently than ever,” Glos said in his letter, the text of which appeared on the website of the daily newspaper Die Welt Saturday evening.

“Since I am completing my 65th year in this year, it is in keeping with my life plans to belong to no further cabinet after 28 September,” Glos said, citing a date which comes a day after the Sept 27 general elections.

In his letter, Glos said he would be “fully engaged” in working “for our election goals and so that Angela Merkel may continue to successfully govern our country.”

Glos told Seehofer he should decide whether to replace him as soon as possible by another member of the CSU or to wait until after the elections.

In line with tradition, the parties in the ruling coalition propose replacements for their own members who leave the cabinet.

A member of the CSU since 1970, Glos was elected to parliament in 1976. Before moving to his cabinet job, he was leader of the CSU parliamentary group in Berlin.

Glos, who took a conservative approach to economic policy, often cut an uncomfortable figure in the cabinet and was at odds with Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat.

His decision to quit comes at a time when Germany is facing its deepest recession in decades, with growth slumping, unemployment rising and banks reluctant to provide credit.

Last month the government announced a 50-billion-euro ($65-billion) fiscal stimulus package to help Europe’s biggest economy weather the economic downturn.

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