A Comeback for Guttenberg?
Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodore zu Guttenberg has been all over the headlines in Germany recently. In case you don’t remember, five to 10 years ago, the Trumpet pointed to Guttenberg as a man to watch. We’ve been forecasting for decades about the rise of a strong charismatic leader in Europe. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has pointed to Guttenberg, who, with his meteoric political rise and rock-star popularity, could be the one.
Then it emerged that Guttenberg had plagiarized his doctoral thesis. He was forced to resign the defense ministry in disgrace.
We never went back on our forecast about the role Guttenberg could play, and now there’s more substantial talk than ever that he’s making a comeback.
It’s a testament to Guttenberg’s enduring popularity that there is always talk of him making a comeback. But here are the facts behind the latest set of rumors:
- Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is about to play a much bigger role in the German election campaign.
Germany will hold elections on September 24. We’ve known for a while that Guttenberg will be campaigning on behalf of his Christian Social Union (csu). He’s soon going to be a whole lot more visible.
Starting in August, he’s going to tour Bavaria. Then in September, he’ll be appearing at a major event at a beer festival. As part of that event, there will be a debate between Germany’s two leading candidates for chancellorship. And then there will be television discussions, during which Guttenberg will be appearing as the csu representative.
In the first time since he was forced to step down, Guttenberg is starting to return to the political stage, getting involved in politics even at a nation level, talking to crowds, appearing at rallies.
All across the media, you see people talking about this being a “trial balloon,” a “test case” to see how well Guttenberg will be received.
- Horst Seehofer, the leader of the csu, says he wants him back.
He has said this for some time, but his statements are getting more specific and detailed. He said that he would like to see Guttenberg come back “step by step.” He said that whether he comes back onto the political scene depends on how he is received in the campaign and on the election result.
Seehofer even said that he would like to Guttenberg in a “relevant ministerial office.” The German news media is full of speculation that he could return to Germany’s cabinet as soon as September. They’re even talking about him potentially being foreign minister.
This brings me to my third point:
- A vacancy will probably soon open up in the German cabinet.
Seehofer is talking about a major reshuffle of his top team. It sounds like he wants to become foreign minister after the election and have Joachim Herrmann, who currently serves in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, to take Seehofer’s job as Bavaria’s state premiere. Herrmann’s departure would leave a vacancy, and the German media is speculating that Guttenberg would be the man to fill that vacancy. The csu doesn’t have many popular, high-caliber politicians, and Guttenberg would fit the bill nicely.
Now there are some factors that make perhaps such a quick comeback unlikely. Guttenberg, for example, is not in the German parliament. That doesn’t prevent him from becoming a minister, but a comeback without electoral support would leave him open for attack. Guttenberg himself has repeatedly denied any plans to return, saying that he just wants to help his political family. He says that his girls are in school in the United States, so he plans to stay there.
Of course, that is exactly what all politicians say, and it’s certainly not stopping the media speculation. With the rise of Donald Trump and events like the migrant crisis, foreign policy is becoming a major issue in German politics, and few political leaders have the foreign-policy expertise and reputation that Guttenberg has.
So watch this election, watch Guttenberg’s appearances, and see how those test balloons fly. As crises around the world intensify, Germans will want a strong leader, and Guttenberg could be that man.