A Sunday election by the country’s parliamentary assembly will usher in a new face into German’s presidency. The overwhelming favorite is Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has in the past referred to US President Donald Trump as world’s “hate preachers”.
As much a Germany president holds limited powers, the seat represents a vital moral authority. The new president will replace Joachim Gauck. The outgoing head of state was once a preacher and East German pro-democracy activist. He has announced that e would not seek a re-election, courtesy of his age. Mr. Gauck is currently 77 years old, reports Yahoo News.
The parliamentary assembly responsible for electing the president is made up of 1260 members – 630 lawmakers from parliament’s lower house and an equal number of representatives from Germany’s 16 states.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “grand coalition” of center-right and center-left parties has publicly declared their support for Frank-Walter Steinmeier – who currently serves as Germany’s foreign minister. Considering that the coalition commands 923 seats, Mr. Steinmeier should have a sure win.
Merkel tried to find a conservative candidate to vie for then presidential but couldn’t find one, forcing her government to turn to Steinmeier, a Social Democrat. He is not new to German’s politics, having attempted in 2009 to unseat Merkel as chancellor. He wasn’t anything close to doing that.
The presidential vote is likely to be one of the last moments of coalition unity ahead of a parliamentary election in September in which Merkel is seeking a fourth term. Both sides hope to end the “grand coalition.”
His opponent Gauck lacks any party affiliations. Steinmeier on the other hand has served as a chief of staff in the administration of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. He is also credited to have strengthened German’s economy through the 2003 Schroeder’s package of economic reforms and welfare cuts to which he hugely contributed.
He also has a strong footing in the foreign affairs matters, having worked as foreign minister under Merkel from 2005 to 2009 and then from 2013 until this year. One of his outstanding credits under his immediate office is the manner he has managed to handle the Ukraine crisis.
Despite being a diplomatic person, he has not hidden his criticism against Donald Trump.
After his nomination for the presidency, he said that he would use his vast experience to tackle the enraging international crisis. A German president “must not be someone who simplifies things; he must encourage people,” he said.
As much as most attention has been placed on Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Joachim Gauck, the Sunday election has four other candidates. These are Alexander Hold, Christoph Butterwegge, Albrecht Glaser and Engelbert Sonneborn. Notable one among these is Butterwegge, a political science professor who profusely opposed Schroeder’s economic reforms.