Thursday, 21 February, 2019

Steinmeier elected Germany's new president

Theresa Hayes | 13 February, 2017, 00:24

Ex-foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected Germany's new president on Sunday.

Steinmeier is a Social Democrat who had served as foreign minister until last month.

He received 931 of the 1,260 votes.

His predecessor, Joachim Gauck, steps down on March 18.

Although the post is largely ceremonial, past German presidents have used the role to act as a moral authority in debates of national and worldwide importance.

In his acceptance speech, Steinmeier said that Germany should be an "anchor of hope" at a time when democratic institutions were under threat across the world.

"For Germany's Social Democrats, Steinmeier's election is a prelude to something bigger to come: a victory in Sept's elections against Merkel", said Broening.

He has always been one of Germany's most popular politicians.

During the USA election campaign, the usually circumspect former lawyer described Donald Trump as a "hate preacher" and predicted more challenging relations with Washington. Asked in August about the rise of right-wing populism in Germany and elsewhere, Steinmeier criticized those who "make politics with fear".

He cited the nationalist Alternative for Germany party, the promoters of Britain's exit from the European Union, and "the hate preachers, like Donald Trump at the moment in the United States".

Germany "inspires others to be courageous, not because everything is well here, but because we've shown how much a country can improve", the German daily quoted Steinmeier as saying. Both sides hope to end the "grand coalition".

The 61-year-old, who regularly polls as Germany's most popular politician, will represent the EU's top economy overseas and act as a kind of moral arbiter for the nation. As former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's chief of staff, he was a main architect of Schroeder's 2003 package of economic reforms and welfare cuts. He also served as vice chancellor from 2007 to 2009.