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Blow for Merkel as close ally resigns in election year

German minister for Education and Research Annette Schavan addresses a press conference with the German chancellor at the chancellery in Berlin on February 9, 2013. Schavan resigned as minister after she had come under pressure after being stripped of herGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a major political blow less than eight months before elections when her education minister, a close ally, stepped down on Saturday over plagiarism allegations.