German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
© The Associated PressGerman Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

The head of the German Socialist Party "Die Linke", Gesine Loetzsch, claimed that it would have "irritated" the German citizens, had Guttenberg remained in office.

Members of the federal government, on the other hand, tried to understate the resignation. The Minister of Development, Free Democrat (FDP) member Dirk Niebel, called it "a consistent and respectable" decision. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP), Minister of Justice, denied that it would have serious effects on the stability of the government.

However, those supporters of Merkels' party, the CDU, who were upset by Guttenberg's scientific transgressions from the beginning, will keenly take note of her inactivity - not least, because the allegations of plagiarism directly tackle the core-values of the CDU's conservative support-base, such as truthfulness and responsibility.

At the same time, polls showed that a majority of the general population stuck by Guttenberg, who remained Germany's most popular politician even during the height of this crisis.

That is why his resignation comes at the worst possible time for the CDU and Merkel. Six regional elections are coming up in the next couple of months, the most important of them in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where the CDU has reigned for 58 years.

On Monday, Stefan Mappus, governor in Baden-Wuerttemberg, called zu Guttenberg an "excellent politician," claiming that the allegations would be eliminated since the defense minister apologized and declared to renounce his doctoral degree.

The current events on the federal level will without a doubt put Mappus and the regional CDU under tremendous pressure and will serve as welcome ammunition for the challenging parties.

A victory of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Baden-Wuerttemberg, as unlikely as it seemed only two days ago, would have devastating effects on Merkel's government, only comparable to the defeat of the SPD in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2005, which prompted Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to push for an early election on the federal level.