AFP - Germany's economy minister, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has submitted his resignation, officials said Saturday, seven months ahead of elections and with Europe's biggest economy in recession.
Michael Glos offered to quit in a letter to the head of his CSU party, the powerful Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), a spokesman for the economy ministry in Berlin told AFP.
In the letter, leaked to the Bild newspaper, 64-year-old Glos cited as his reasons for stepping down his advancing age and that "renewal, the ability to set the agenda and credibility are needed now more than ever."
But with elections fast approaching -- his CSU party suffered a drubbing in a state vote in late September -- and the German economy suffering its worst slowdown since World War II, it is clear there are other factors.
Merkel is running for re-election in general elections in September, and although her personal popularity rating remains high, the same cannot be said of her conservative allies.
They are hoping to win enough votes to be able to jettison their current "grand coalition" partners, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), and govern with a party with an ideology closer to their own.
Since the economic crisis began, Glos has been largely sidelined, perhaps due to differences with Merkel. Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck -- from the SPD -- has generated far more headlines.
Germany has also come under pressure from firms, from experts and from its European allies for acting too late to stimulate economic activity.
Glos was an influential figure in the conservatives under former chancellor Helmut Kohl. He became economy minister in 2005 when CSU chief and failed chancellor candidate Edmund Stoiber turned it down.
"My work as minister for the economy and technology has been the high-point of my political life," Bild cited his resignation note as saying on its website.
"First and foremost it was important to me to implement quickly effective measures in the financial and economic crisis that also carried my signature," he said.
Bild said that Glos has informed Merkel that he was quitting, who was in Munich for an international security conference. The spokesman said he was unable to confirm this.