A huge online campaign has rallied in support of former German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who resigned on Tuesday after being stripped of his PhD for plagiarising large sections of his thesis.
At the time of writing, more than 545,000 people had endorsed the Facebook page "Wir wollen Guttenberg zurück" (we want Guttenberg back) and just 41,000 had cast their lot with counter-page "Wir wollen Guttenberg nicht zurück".
The 39-year-old Guttenberg, a wealthy Bavarian aristocrat*, stepped down from his post as defence minister after a firestorm of media and political criticism which saw him dubbed "minister of cut and paste" and "Baron zu Googleberg". His PhD in constitutional law had been formally revoked after he admitted copying large parts of his thesis, saying he had been driven to do so by the pressures of being an MP and raising kids at the same time as studying.
Prior to the PhD brouhaha, Guttenberg had become the most popular politician in Germany and had been seen as destined for great things. It would appear from the Facebook numbers that he still enjoys strong support from ordinary Germans: but at the moment the German media are solidly against him.
The disgraced toff also had outwardly firm backing from most of his fellow Christian Democrat politicoes, though this wasn't universal. Education minister Annette Schavan commented on his plagiarism: "intellectual theft is not a small thing. The protection of intellectual property is a higher good."
It appears, however, that ordinary Germans – or anyway those ordinary Germans who use Facebook – don't agree. The freetard aristocrat may well be back in politics sooner than had been expected. ®
*Guttenberg's full name and title is Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester, Freiherr [Baron, in English] von und zu Guttenberg. He inherited a castle in Bavaria and a mansion in Berlin, and the family wealth is such that he never had to work at anything but managing his investments before entering politics. He is married to another aristo, TV presenter Countess Stephanie von Bismarck (or Baroness von und zu Guttenberg, to use her title by marriage).
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