Germany elects Frank-Walter Steinmeier as new president

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Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Photo by SPD in Niedersachsen

The 2017 German presidential election was held on 12 February 2017. The election selected Frank-Walter Steinmeier as the 12th President of the Federal Republic of Germany; incumbent President Joachim Gauck announced on 6 June 2016 that he would not stand for re-election, citing his advancing age.

The President was elected by the Federal Convention, an electoral body that consists of all members of the current Bundestag and an equal number of electors, who are elected by the sixteen state parliaments. The President-elect will enter office on 18 March 2017 and will take the oath of office the same day in a joint session of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Billed as Germany’s “anti-Trump”, former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected Sunday as the new head of state, vowing to stand up to simplistic populist rhetoric.

The 61-year-old, who regularly polls as Germany’s most popular politician, will represent the EU’s top economy abroad in the largely ceremonial post and act as a kind of moral arbiter for the nation.

His Social Democrats (SPD) hope the appointment will boost their fortunes just as their candidate Martin Schulz, the former European parliament president, readies to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel in September elections.

Accepting the five-year post, Steinmeier said he would promote dialogue and democracy in the current “stormy times” when many citizens fear the world is “coming undone”.

And he vowed to stand up to the rising trend of populism and “all those who think that in a world which is becoming more difficult, the solutions must become simpler”.

“The answers will remain difficult, and I think the best answers can be found in democracy,” he said, speaking to ARD television shortly after the vote.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier received 931 of 1,239 valid votes after Merkel’s conservatives, lacking a strong candidate of their own, agreed to back him to replace incumbent Joachim Gauck, 77, a former pastor from ex-communist East Germany.

The vote was held in Berlin’s glass-domed Reichstag building by a special Federal Assembly, made up of national lawmakers and electors sent from Germany’s 16 states — among them deputies but also artists, writers, musicians and national football coach Joachim Loew.

Source: AFP

Photo by SPD in Niedersachsen