The head of a party in Germany’s ruling coalition on Saturday rejected an offer by German Economy Minister Michael Glos to resign, ZDF public television reported.
Horst Seehofer, leader of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union, has asked Glos to remain in the government, ZDF said, citing a party spokesman.
In Germany, the parties in the ruling coalition select Cabinet ministers. Seehofer’s refusal to allow Glos to exit the government leaves the ruling coalition in political limbo with seven months to go before a general election.
The CSU, which is the powerful sister party to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), could not immediately be reached for comment.
Glos offered to quit earlier on Saturday in a letter to Seehofer, a spokesman for the economy ministry said. With Germany suffering its worst economic downturn since World War II, the news did not go down well in Berlin.
In the letter, leaked to the Bild newspaper, 64-year-old Glos cited as his reasons for stepping down his advancing age and a drive by Seehofer to change the face of the party and bring in new blood since a disastrous state election in September.
“Renewal, the ability to set the agenda and credibility are needed now more than ever,” Glos wrote of the party.
But with elections fast approaching — his CSU party suffered a historic drubbing in the Bavarian state vote — and the German economy suffering its worst recession of the post-war period, it is clear there are other factors.
Merkel faces re-election in September, and although her personal popularity rating remains high, the same cannot be said of the CSU, whose votes she needs to win.
The conservatives are hoping to win enough votes to be able to jettison their current “grand coalition” partners, the center-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 because of differences with Merkel. German 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 German 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 Web site.
“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.