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President Wulff resigns

Published: 17 Feb 2012 11:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Feb 2012 12:25 GMT+01:00

His decision leaves fellow conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel with the task of trying to identify a replacement who will be popular across the political spectrum – as the next president will be Germany's third within two years.

Facing the cameras in Berlin on Friday morning, Wulff admitted he no longer had the full trust of the broad majority of the people and could thus no longer carry out the duties of president.

“The developments of the past days and weeks have shown that this trust and thus my ability to function have been lastingly damaged,” he said, flanked by his wife Bettina in a hall of the presidential Bellevue Palace.

Wulff has been under increasing pressure to resign since last December when details of a soft loan of €500,000 he got from the wife of a businessman but did not declare, became public.

He did not mention the demand made late on Thursday from the public prosecutor’s office in Hannover, Lower Saxony, where he used to be state premier, that his immunity from investigation be lifted.

But he did say he was convinced the investigation would completely exonerate him. “I made mistakes but I was always honest,” he said.

Merkel soon afterwards said it was a strength of the country that the law applied to all equally, no matter what their position.

Referring to his much-lauded statement that Islam had a place within German society, Wulff clearly attempted to frame his presidency as one devoted to the aim of increasing integration, devoting the first part of his resignation speech to that topic.

Germany would be strongest domestically and on a European level if integration is successful, he said, but added that this would need a president who could concentrate on the job.

He said he was resigning because only a president who enjoyed the “full trust of the broad majority of the people”, could take on the enormous challenges on the international stage was well as those at home.

In her brief statement, Merkel also praised his work on integration. “He exerted his full energy for a modern and open Germany. He gave us an important impulse to strengthening this country in its diversity and his name will always be connected with that,” she said.

She came under increasing criticism for backing Wulff throughout the unfolding scandal, as details of holidays paid for by businessmen followed accounts of threats made to newspaper executives about to report on his sweetheart loan.

Merkel will now consult with party colleagues in the Christian Democratic Union, their Bavarian CSU allies, as well as her coalition partner the Free Democratic Party before talking with opposition parties the Social Democratic Party and the Greens to find a candidate acceptable to all.

Wulff himself was a controversial candidate who Merkel pushed into office in the face of opposition from within her own party’s ranks. He took over after his predecessor Horst Köhler resigned in May 2010 after making comments which appeared to justify Germany taking military action to defend its economic interests.

Then it was said that Köhler resigned too quickly as a result of a thin skin – this time the calls for the president’s resignation have been varied and loud for weeks.

The German constitution says that should a president resign or be prevented from carrying out his duties, his office should be filled by the president of the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat – currently Christian Social Union leader Horst Seehofer.

The enormous Federal Convention which elects the president, must meet at the latest 30 days after a resignation to start voting on candidates. The assembly has 1,244 delegates including all the members of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, and equal numbers elected by the parliaments of the federal states.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

11:30 February 17, 2012 by pepsionice
Just a wager, but not one single sustainable charge will be put up against the guy. Other than not reporting the precise nature of the home loan on some political paperwork required by the position.....he will never be fully charged with anything. It's kind of a comical deal in the end. He gets a loan from a friend, which no one can prove that he gave any favors for. He gets a special discount from Volkswagen on a leased car, which there is no law against.
11:38 February 17, 2012 by McM
From the earlier article comments....

Great stuff, here we go again. It's the Wulff it's the Wulff,.....on with the witch hunt.

I have heard of penis envy but Schnäppchenjäger envy portrayed as bad form adds a whole new dimension in German politics. It looks like the poor chap will finally bow out as BP . This is up there with the best of the German shock horror press frenzy campaigns. Who will be next?

Sorry if I am being provocative but it really is a funny issue.

Yes I know, possible corruption, credibility,public image, national pride, honesty etc etc. Such blatant bargain hunting should be exposed. After all it's up there with the naughty Greek budget .

Well , must go and walk the dog.

Back ....and the man has fallen on his sword.
11:46 February 17, 2012 by starsh3ro
well, he has been a sponger long enough.
11:48 February 17, 2012 by murka
BBC writes that he will be "replaced by Mr Seehofer". Huh?

Get the Wulff back, get the Wulff back!!
12:01 February 17, 2012 by melbournite
Please now, from the land of corrupt presidents and ministers who fake their PhD's, spare us the lectures on Greek corruption.

Perhaps Merkel can have her horse appointed as president, after all it was good enough for Caligula
12:09 February 17, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
It has been immensely naive of Wulff to think that he would in the end get away with his freeloading favoritist ways and be able to finish his term of office unscathed. The bad news just kept piling up, and it became ever more apparent that Wulff abused his power and authority as Minister President of Lower Saxony to his own personal gain and advantage.

This was the only way to end this. A Minister President or Bundespräsident must be above any of the cronyism and favoritism which Wulff so blatantly indulged in. You might say, well, nobody rises to top positions like this without a network of "old boys" and influential wealthy friends. But that's not the point. You become a liability and it calls your impartiality and independence as head of government in question when you accept gifts or remuneration for personal favors to the extent that Wulff did.
12:18 February 17, 2012 by JDee
Where Wulff was naive was in criticsing the ECB ( for acting outside of it's mandate ) and he also highlighted that the bailout of Greece was unconstiutional. Ever since then he has had a terrible run of bad luck. Has he actually been accused of doing anything illegal? German Constiution ( i.e. the German people ) 0 The people who really run the world 1. A spectacular home goal.
14:28 February 17, 2012 by derExDeutsche
Well, criticizing the ECB surely is a sin. And calling the bailouts unconstitutional is worthy of the guillotine. No wonder hes been slandered unmercifully by the Liberal German Press. it seems as if anyone with similar opinions is either, a) in the process of being slandered or b) weg vom Fensterbrett.
15:13 February 17, 2012 by KamiZ
Personally, I'd prefer Wulff any day of the week rather than damned Horst Seehofer. I hate that guy!
15:26 February 17, 2012 by Kennneth Ingle
This man "Wulff" was no worse than any of the political rouges who have criticised him. However, with a job like ¦quot;president¦quot; one could have expected him to be a little better. This is just one more episode in the series of incompetence and greed, which is to be found in all parties and policy-making blocks since the Bundes Republic was founded.
15:34 February 17, 2012 by smart2012
i though corruption did not exist in Germany.....
15:59 February 17, 2012 by Redwing
Good riddance, Wulff.

As for Seehofer, he has taken over the President's office temporarily. However, as he is another good-looker A Merkel may be persuaded to appoint him permanently. I would prefer a President who is not just above politics but also above religious affiliations. Find one who is an atheist or at least secular.
01:14 February 18, 2012 by Michel_Berlin
Never could stand the man...good riddance, much to late!

Go Gauck!!! :)
03:15 February 18, 2012 by stablemate
i guess when your done your done....suppose it was the pressure
07:16 February 18, 2012 by mos101392
Although he is supposed to walk on water like Jesus did, (sarcasm)....I don't think he did anything that justified resigning...I know I wouldn't have. Just because a prosecutor opens his mouth, doesn't mean he commands obedience. I was falsely accused of something and ordered to pay,,,I refused to and eventually it was dropped by a judge. Ok, a trafic violation and what his political opponents are accusing him of are apples and oranges. There will always be those that are jealous and whine like babies when it appears they didn't get the same benefits as their President did. The banks will always get their money even get bailed out and the regular people are stuck in their world and are slaves to them. So I have no problem and I have given loans to friends and received loans and have no problem with it. The Government and Bank slave masters must not believe everyone has to play their rules. Once Greece gets bailed out, where do you think the money is going to....to the other banks to pay off the loans and interest...it's just a game going round and round and the banks benefit the most.

Besides, I've always wondered why Germany needs a President when they have a chancellor? Is it something the people have asked for and don't mind paying for? Like paying for a King or Queen just to say it's always been so so why change it..ridiculous!
07:23 February 18, 2012 by Barnel
Honestly, I've seen much worse crimes... A warning should have neen enough. The problem is that with today's media everything becomes a big story

Good article on www.ariespost.com
12:33 February 18, 2012 by raandy
There is nothing to gloat about here. This is a case of poor judgement, the loan, car, ticket up grade are nothing and by themselves would have never resulted in his resignation. The threat he made to the news was an entirely different matter.This was seen and is an abuse or attempted abuse of power.

Sorry it ended this way Mr. Wulff.
13:53 February 18, 2012 by Eastard
Let your News Media kill off your best politicians and see who runs the country... Again...
21:59 February 19, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ melbournite

So what do we have here? In Germany, ministers and presidents that lie/abuse their powers are forced by the public opinion to resigned. In Greece, prime ministers falsifying the figures about public finances and blocking transparency laws suffer no punishment. I would say it is pretty clear who should lecture who.
06:12 February 20, 2012 by mos101392
I am curious if the new President had anything to do with the forces that led to Mr. Wulff's eventual resignation. Just curious!
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