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Special assembly votes new German president into office

June 30, 2010 - BERLIN

The Federal Council, which brings together the entire membership of the Berlin-based Bundestag parliament and an equal number of representatives nominated by the 16 federal states, votes for a successor to Horst Köhler. The German president resigned in May after coming under fire for linking military action abroad with the defense of German economic interests. For historical and political reasons, German military involvement in Afghanistan and elsewhere is a touchy issue.

The Federal Council, which brings together the entire membership of the Berlin-based Bundestag parliament and an equal number of representatives nominated by the 16 federal states, votes for a successor to Horst Köhler. The German president resigned in May after coming under fire for linking military action abroad with the defense of German economic interests. For historical and political reasons, German military involvement in Afghanistan and elsewhere is a touchy issue. The president's role is largely ceremonial, yet the resignation of the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was seen as bad news for Chancellor Angela Merkel: Köhler was an ally at a time of increasing pressure on her as leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union. Regional party leaders of the ruling center-right coalition of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Free Democratic Party chose the conservative premier of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, as the candidate to replace Köhler over Merkel's choice, Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Opposition parties, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party have proposed Joachim Gauck, a former East German dissident and the first federal commissioner of the Stasi secret police archives, as their candidate. The Left Party has not yet named a candidate. The popularity of Merkel's center-right coalition has slumped in the polls over its management of the euro crisis and the country's austerity measures. (Written Jun 2010)

German Parties Name Candidates to Succeed Köhler (German Missions in US 4 Jun 2010)

Date written/update: 2010-06-30