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Europe

CSU rising star becomes economy minister

Latest update : 2009-02-09

Thirty-seven-year-old Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a member of the Bavarian conservative party CSU, was named economy minister after the surprise resignation of Michael Glos over the weekend. Guttenberg was first elected to parliament at 30.

AFP - At 37 years old, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the man set to become Germany's new economy minister amid a deep recession, will be the youngest person to hold the post in modern German history.
   
A rising star of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the baby-faced zu Guttenberg was elected to parliament at the tender age of 30.
   
A member of an aristocratic German family -- his full name is Baron Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg -- he has risen quickly through the party ranks and was appointed as secretary-general of the CSU only three months ago.  Considered an expert in defence and foreign affairs, he has been outspoken in calling for greater German military involvement in Afghanistan as a member of the foreign-policy committee in Germany's lower house of parliament.
   
However, the father of two has already come under fire for his lack of experience in economic affairs, although on his website he lists his occupation before becoming an MP as chief executive of his family's construction company.
   
Speaking on public television station N24, Rainer Bruederle, vice chairman of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), described his appointment as an "emergency solution."
   
"Obviously ... you just need to be able to read and write to become economics minister," he said.
   
Fellow conservative MP Norbert Roettgen described him as "an intelligent man with an especially international perspective who thinks outside the box."
   
His international outlook -- he is an expert in transatlantic relations and a fluent English speaker -- is of more importance than the question of his economic experience, Roettgen said.
   
Born in Munich on December 5, 1971, zu Guttenberg hails from a prestigious background. His father is an orchestral conductor and his mother Countess Christiane von Eltz. The zu Guttenberg family, from Franconia in northern Bavaria, dates back to 1180.
   
His great-great uncle, Karl-Ludwig von und zu Guttenberg, was a leading figure in the anti-Nazi resistance movement during World War II and was captured by the Gestapo and eventually executed following the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in 1944.
   
Zu Guttenberg's predecessor as economy minister, Michael Glos -- 27 years his senior -- rocked Germany's political establishment with his surprise resignation on Sunday.
   
Few tears are being shed for Glos, however, who had a prickly relationship with Merkel and Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck and was widely criticised for inactivity during the financial crisis.
   
The front-page of the Financial Times Deutschland Monday described Glos's resignation as "his first achievement."
 

Date created : 2009-02-09

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