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Merkel takes another hit as minister quits in poll year

AFP-JIJI

Chancellor Angela Merkel was left licking her wounds Sunday after her education minister quit amid a plagiarism scandal, depriving her of a key ally as she gears up for September elections.

Merkel betrayed rare emotion as she accepted “with a very heavy heart” the resignation of Annette Schavan, a personal friend, who quit to fight charges from her former university that she plagiarized her thesis 33 years ago.

The level of alleged plagiarism in Schavan’s thesis, titled “Person and Conscience,” was thought to be much less than in a similar case two years ago, when Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg quit.

Although Merkel enjoys a sizable lead in the polls and a high level of personal popularity, this is the second body blow in recent weeks after what she termed a “painful” loss in a Jan. 20 state election.

Even some opposition figures showed sympathy for Schavan, who has vowed to fight Duesseldorf University’s decision to strip her of her doctorate in the courts. SPD head Sigmar Gabriel said in an interview in the Welt am Sonntag weekly that he valued Schavan as an “honest and competent” minister and he was “extremely sorry” to see her go, although he believed it was the right decision.

  • Christopher-trier

    Perhaps I’m mad but there is something strange about this.
    Why is it that all the people accused of plagiarism are key figures
    in Merkel’s government? First it was zu Guttenberg, now it’s Schavan.
    Zu Guttenberg was a rising star in the CDU and a likely future chancellor.
    Schavan is a close friend and confidant of Merkel. Christian Wulff was also ousted
    on dubious charges. Who finds these things? Why are the ones targeted important figures in the German government? It seems to me as if a few bitter SPD supporters unable to accept that their party no longer offer much of a choice are trying to wreck the CDU.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jan.japan Jan Claudius Weirauch

      I agree with you, except the part of the opposition party SPD doing that.

      • Christopher-trier

        Let me clarify that. I do not believe that the SPD itself is doing it, I think individuals outside the SPD but who are likely supporters of the party are doing it. I’ve seen a lot of left-wing activists doing things like this.