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Is “baron from Bavaria” a liability for Merkel?

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Germany’s 37-year-old economy minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, could become a liability for Chancellor Angela Merkel in September’s election thanks to his open criticism of the government’s 11th-hour rescue of carmaker Opel.

Guttenberg, a rising star in Merkel’s conservative camp, had argued for an Opel insolvency in the days preceding the deal.

He astonished reporters when he expressed objections to the agreement just minutes after the announcement in the early hours of Saturday that German taxpayers would help tide over Opel’s operations until General Motors concluded an agreement to sell Opel to a group led by Canadian supplier Magna.

“I want to say that, in a very difficult discussion process … I personally came to a different view of the risks,” said Guttenberg, a Bavarian who has been economy minister for less than four months. There are no Opel plants in Bavaria.

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