• Germany's news in English

Merkel's presidential problem

The Local · 17 Feb 2012, 13:13

Published: 17 Feb 2012 13:13 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Remaining true to his reputation for blandness, Christian Wulff ended his short presidency with a whimper on Friday.

Confronted with demands that his immunity from prosecution be lifted, he stepped down after a stream of revelations about his alleged impropriety. From a sweetheart loan from a rich acquaintance to weekend getaways with someone else picking up the tab, it was a million pin pricks rather than a single transgression that left the 52-year-old's political career in tatters.

His only notable act during his two-year tenure as Germany's largely ceremonial head of state was to declare Islam had become an integral part of the country's society. Unfortunately his attempt to further the integration of Germany's Muslims will now become a mere footnote in an otherwise unnecessary presidency.

Handpicked by Merkel as a supposedly safe set of hands following the unexpected resignation of his temperamental predecessor Horst Köhler in 2010, Wulff failed to inspire from the start.

His nomination made plenty of people queasy, because there are good reasons someone shouldn't go directly from active politics into the highest office of the land. Wulff had been state premier of Lower Saxony, not the usual elder statesman chosen to be German president.

But Merkel ignored such concerns and rejected the opposition's efforts to find a joint candidate for the presidency, such as Joachim Gauck, a former pastor and respected East German civil rights activist.

Her stubborn insistence led to the humiliation of Wulff only being elected after three rounds of voting – an omen, perhaps, of the troubled presidency that was to come.

Now the chancellor is left looking for her third head of state in just two years. In an embarrassing climb down, she acknowledged on Friday she would seek a broad parliamentary consensus for the next president.

After personally choosing Köhler – who fled from office – and Wulff – who was chased from it – she call ill afford another presidential crisis of her own making.

Marc Young



The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

14:39 February 17, 2012 by derExDeutsche
Well, nobody is going to get any peace until the Pinko Press, Center-left and Greens get their pick. Its strange how only certain people come under the medias microscope, While others have immunity. Something tells me Herr Gauck would receive no such scrutiny.
15:27 February 17, 2012 by tdog1964
Maybe Chancellor Merkel could combine the offices of Preisent and Chancellor together. There is some precedent in Germany to do that after all.
02:13 February 23, 2012 by vonSchwerin

Yes, but that didn't work out so well, and the two offices were abruptly split again on 30 April 1945.
22:23 March 30, 2012 by Zephyr_Max
What is a chancellor exactly? Is she not in the seat of power for irrespective of who holds the title of president? And why doesn't Germany have a proper democratic election where the president can be elected by the people for the people and all that jazz?
Today's headlines
US tries to block Chinese purchase of Aixtron
Photo: Oliver Berg / DPA / AFP

US President Barack Obama on Friday moved to block a Chinese company's purchase of German semiconductor equipment maker Aixtron by rejecting the inclusion of Aixtron's US business in the deal.

Merkel to chart 2017 election battle at party congress
Photo: Tobias Schwarz / AFP

After Donald Trump's shock victory, Francois Hollande's decision not to seek re-election and populism on the rise, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is next up on the campaign podium to set out her strategy for winning in 2017 polls.

Berlin vs Munich: whose newborn polar bear is cuter?
Berlin's (left) and Munich's (right) newborn bears. Photos: Tierpark Berlin / DPA

Both city zoos welcomed baby polar bears into the world in November, with Berlin zoo its releasing first photos on Friday. But which one is more adorable?

Learn how to speak German like a silver screen icon
Dirty Harry. Photo: DPA

We all agree that there is no other option than to learn irregular German verbs by rote. But when you want a bit of downtime, why not learn from your big screen heroes?

Stolen Dachau 'Work will set you free' gate found: police
The entrance to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Photo: DPA

An iron gate from the former Nazi concentration camp in Germany's Dachau with the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will set you free") has been found two years after it was stolen, police said Friday.

Mystery flight path artist draws new message in sky
Photo: DPA

A pilot who likes to draw patterns in the sky using his flight path has returned with his greatest artwork yet.

Berlin 'abusing power' to stop Snowden coming to Germany
Edward Snowden. Photo: DPA

Opposition parties have accused the coalition government of overstepping its authority in its attempt to block American whistleblower Edward Snowden's trip to Germany.

Germany gains record number of Michelin-star restaurants
Head of the Michelin Guide, Michael Ellis (centre) with Michelin-star chefs at a presentation in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

Germany had a slew of newly minted Michelin-star restaurants this year, and its top-rated establishments held onto their prestigious three stars.

At last: Germany passes major disabled rights reform
People in wheelchairs watch as the German parliament deliberates on the new disability rights reform. Photo: DPA.

For years people with disabilities in Germany have called for legislation to provide them with better benefits and opportunities in life and work. On Thursday the German parliament passed such a reform - but is it enough?

How new German rules are holding refugee families apart
Children wait for food in Jarablus, Syria. Photo: DPA

Germany, trying to staunch the flow of Syrian refugees, has placed high hurdles for them to be reunited with their families, creating a Kafkaesque nightmare in the courts.

10 German Christmas cookies you have to bake this winter
Sponsored Article
The key to launching your international career
Our 10-step guide for doing Christmas just like a German
Here's why so many Germans vote for the far-right AfD
7 events in Germany that'll make December unforgettable
7 frosty German sayings to make you a winter wordsmith
This is how unequal German society has become
Six things you should know about the Lufthansa strike
9 ways living in Germany will make you a better person
These 10 German Christmas markets cannot be missed
8 German words that unlock amazing secrets in English
10 German words with simply hilarious literal translations
7 things Germans do that make foreigners feel awkward
Why Donald Trump's grandad was booted out of Germany
This is what is really inside your Döner kebab
Rejoice! Christmas markets start opening across Germany
These German universities are best at landing you a job
Why Heidelberg is Germany's most inspiring city
This soppy German Christmas ad will bring you to tears
Here's where Germans speak the best (and worst) English
10 German books you have to read before you die
U-Bahn train found filled with autumn foliage in Berlin
Seven German words that unlock amazing secrets about English
Germany's ten most beautiful towns you've never visited
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd