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Can Gauck be president 'while living in sin?'
Photo: DPA

Can Gauck be president 'while living in sin?'

Published: 22 Feb 2012 07:47 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Feb 2012 07:47 GMT+01:00

Germans generally agree that Joachim Gauck is a good choice for president. But can the ex-pastor be the nation's moral authority while staying married to one woman yet living with another set to become First Lady? Have your say.

In Germany the president’s role is mainly a ceremonial one, but from time to time he’s expected to step in and provide the country with some direction.

Former President Christian Wulff used his soapbox to promote integration of Germany's Muslims. Others have expounded on various aspects of German society.

But some conservative politicians – particularly in the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) – have said Gauck’s personal situation makes him an odd choice to be a moral authority figure.

In fact, Gauck has been separated from his legal wife for years, but has been living with his partner Daniela Schadt since 2000.

The arrangement raised the hackles of prominent CSU Bundestag member Norbert Geis who called on Gauck to “arrange his personal affairs as quickly as possible.”

Others, including Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, have defended the likely president’s personal life, saying they’re nobody’s business. So far, Gauck has refused to comment on the matter.

Does the country’s conscience need to get properly married in order to be effective? Have your say below.

Registered users at The Local may add their comments in the field below. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here – it’s free and only takes a moment.

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Your comments about this article

09:18 February 22, 2012 by The-ex-pat
Married to one woman and living with another, great opening sentence, nice and provocative, except that he has been separated from his "wife" for 12 years!!
09:56 February 22, 2012 by Englishted
Does he pay maintenance to his ex? or does he still claim married mans tax allowance ?.
10:08 February 22, 2012 by Tangential
What the hell? He's an executive officer (check the dictionary), not a moral authority.

Why do we even need a moral authority? Aren't we intelligent people that can decide for ourselves whether an action is moral or immoral?

Honestly, who cares what his relationship status is if he's an effective leader. 1 wife, 10 wives, 15 lovers, has no bearing whatsoever on his ability to lead. To be honest, the more partners he can handle at once, the more convinced I am that A: He's able to manage his time effectively, B. Handle crises, and C. Has awesome people skills!
10:20 February 22, 2012 by raandy
Neither him nor his estranged wife have sought a divorce for what ever reason.

It really should not be an issue concerning the Presidency.

Surely this was discussed prior to his appointment and deemed not seriously significant.

or

will it become so?
12:06 February 22, 2012 by Kennneth Ingle
It is rather strange to see how many European countries were, or are, being run by leaders who are not even capable of sorting out their own family life. Morality would no longer seem to be a requirement when decisions of national or world importance are made.
13:06 February 22, 2012 by freechoice
My response....John 8:7
13:25 February 22, 2012 by TheCrownPrince
I prefer the relaxed attitude of "many European countries" concerning the private and/or family life of their leaders to the superficial and hypocritical fuss some non-european countries make about the personal life of their politicians any day.

In my opinion politicians can do as they like in their private time as long as it's not against the law. I guess that's why they call it "private life".
14:14 February 22, 2012 by derExDeutsche
@TheCrownPrince

'In my opinion politicians can do as they like in their private time as long as it's not against the law. I guess that's why they call it "private life". '

Ha. Yes, as long as they are not practicing Christianity, you are fine with that. Wow, your tolerance is truly exemplary .
21:19 February 22, 2012 by neunElf
He is NOT an Exceutive Officer, he is a ceremonial officer, with no power.

That being said, this office has always been one to exemplify the best in public service, sadly now we our going to compound the moral corruptness of CW with the moral indifference of Gauck.
23:05 February 22, 2012 by TheCrownPrince
@derExDeutsche

To my mind politicians can pray on their knees to Jesus, Allah, Amun-Ra or Odin for hours, as long as they do it at home, don't bother anyone with it and fulfil their duties in their office. They can divorce, they can have girl-friends, they can be homosexual or lesbian, I don't give a @#&! about it as long as they do their job properly. I really don't care. And I am absolutely no fan of pretending to have a perfect marriage or a flawless life just for the press and public. Everybody stinks on the privy anyway.
02:12 February 23, 2012 by lenny van
Why all the fuss.? Have morals ever mattered to a country populated by an overwhelming majority of nihilistic, spritual zombies. Its real-politics and the money, stupid.
09:48 February 23, 2012 by melcart
Mr. Gauck is a former protestant minister who is set to become Germany's next president. He has not divorced his wife although they no longer live together. He has a mistress.

This is certainly an unusual life style. While some playboys might think having a wife and mistress sounds cool, most feminist would throw such a man out the door.

So, is it any of our business how Gauck rationalises his personal life style in light of his former office as a protestant minister?

If we think Gauck will apply the same logical thinking he uses to rationalise his private life to his official duties, then yes it is our business. If we think he will use a different yardstick for his official duties than he uses in private, then the answer is no.

This is nothing more than the old debate of whether or not "character" matters when it comes to public office holders. Some people say "yes it does", some people say "no it doesn't".

My observation is that when a politician's character is questionable, their supporters say it doesn't matter while their opponents say it does (recall all the discussions surrounding Clinton or Schröder).

Unfortunately we can only know afterwards when we compare the rationalisations for their public acts with the rationalisations for their private behaviour whether or not politicians can keep the two realms separate.
13:44 February 23, 2012 by Celeon
Yes he can. This is Germany, not the USA , Poland or Iran.
17:29 February 23, 2012 by Deutschguy
@mel: "While some playboys might think having a wife and mistress sounds cool, most feminist would throw such a man out the door."

This has nothing to do with feminism. His actual wife can claim herself to be a feminist, if she is the one making her own choices to divorce him or remain married to him.

Hillary Clinton is a feminist, but it's up to her to accept her husband as he is and remain with him, despite his affair(s). It's the power over exercising her own choices that makes her a feminist, not Bill's behavior.
11:22 February 24, 2012 by murka
The CSU guy represents the right wing standing on family etc., no surprise here. The way the presidency is designed in Germany it is not suitable for carrier politicians, yesterday's administrators or businessmen. Gauck lives two floors higher than Wulff, Köhler, Seehofer et al. in the sin house.
13:16 February 24, 2012 by 1TruthTeller
The Government of Germany, or anywhere else for that matter, has absolutely NO BUSINESS in the bedrooms of the nation, unless it is to protect children or others demonstrably incapable of caring for themselves. "Sin?" What is this? The Middle Ages?
19:11 February 24, 2012 by yuri_nahl
@ TheCrownPrince...You are correct. @ 1TruthTeller...you too. @ Celeon say it, brother!

"Sin", "Family values", "Morals"... a pile of voodoo to distract the conversation from reality. These are just the thin end of the wedge which opens the crack into the "room with too many lawyers, police, judges, concentration camps."
19:34 February 24, 2012 by raandy
melcart is there some sort of revival going on for Puritan Values I have missed in the last decade??
00:32 February 25, 2012 by PierceArrow
Didn't Hitler "live in sin" with Eva Braun?
12:19 February 25, 2012 by blackboot11
from TheCrownPrince: "To my mind politicians can pray on their knees to Jesus, Allah, Amun-Ra or Odin for hours, as long as they do it at home, don't bother anyone with it and fulfil their duties in their office. They can divorce, they can have girl-friends, they can be homosexual or lesbian, I don't give a @#&! about it as long as they do their job properly. I really don't care. And I am absolutely no fan of pretending to have a perfect marriage or a flawless life just for the press and public. Everybody stinks on the privy anyway.

this is just awesome!!!!!!!
15:40 February 25, 2012 by moshe rosen
Who should care about this? This is between him, and his family. Would Germany rather have a thief at the helm?

Morality, I don't think so. Germany needs honest politicans and this man seems to fit the ticket. As long as he is forthright about finances,again, who cares?

Also, who among us is in a postion to judge him?

He sounds good for the country, bring him on!
22:27 February 25, 2012 by Lisa Rusbridge
Honestly, who really cares? It seems silly for Germany to even have such a ceremonial office. I always thought such things were reserved for monarchies or bloodlines - that sort of thing.

I was wondering though if Gauck's girlfriend, or however she correctly may be referred, and Merkel have the same barber or hair stylist. They do look eerily similar in their severely cropped tidy little hair-dos. Maybe that's a sign that Gauck will be a good fit for the job.
15:41 February 27, 2012 by TheWonderer
One may like it or not.

But after all, he's always been honest and does not hide it and -in contrast to many other politicians, esp. Wulff- he does not preach water whilst having wine.

For my liking, he's far better than those "pillars of society" who attend mass twice a week, but when at home beat their wives or mess around with their own or neighbours' kids...

There is no need for me to know what anybody does in his bedroom as long as both partners are adults, able-minded and act in mutual consent.

And for the hardcore-Christians: Read the story of the Samaritan!

The Wonderer
12:52 February 28, 2012 by insight101
Dear German readers: If you don't think the moral character of your leader has any relation to how he does his job, maybe you should go back a few years in your history or look at the decisions of immoral leaders in others since it is easier for you to see then. You just have a harder time when it comes to family, Christian, or sexual moral values, but that means you have to ignore the consequences that come to others from decisions such as those Mr. Gauck make. That being said, it would probably be hard to find a better man in Germany...
18:34 March 2, 2012 by moshe rosen
Living in sin is a matter of opinion. Really, this involves no one except he and his family. How can any person make moral judgments about this man.

Taking money, then being sneaky about it and then retiring with 200,000 Euro a year for life! Now that is immoral!
20:24 March 2, 2012 by cheeba
What's the big deal? This is very common among the German political class. They are all whores. Shroeder has been married 3 times. Kohl was living in sin in Berlin while his late wife was suffering back in Ludwigshafen. We know what that led to. The current Bavarian leader had a child out of wedlock, something strictly forbidden by the Church he swore eternal vows to. Merkel lived in sin with her current (second) husband for many yeard before making herself a decent woman just before becoming Kanzler. They are all like Hitler and Eva Braun, at least in this way, Deutschsland, the confederacy of whores!!!
07:49 March 5, 2012 by insight101
@moshe rosen

well, if it involves his family then that means he has hurt and set a strange example for the members of his family, who are part of society. normally, there are laws against hurting other people. we don't have that, but at least you could have the strength to call it what it is.

spouses and children who are hurt by the disloyal actions of a family member, will be jaded to one degree or another. that hurt and the ripples it causes moving outward damage society. so how can we judge what goes on between him and his family? the same way we would if he was beating his wife or stealing from her, etc...
16:05 March 8, 2012 by freechoice
Nobody in the can fill the job of a President based on this news title heading!
21:27 March 14, 2012 by domio
Our Chancellor is a Woman, our Foreign Minister gay, the Miister of economy Vietnamese, the head of the green party Turkish, havin an unmarried President would make me proud! Other than nationality this is something to take pride in.
20:31 March 15, 2012 by ChuChu
DOMIO..... my goodness, are these people the best we can muster to "RULE"

us? Hahaha it it pathetic? No wonder that an Austrian misfit could get it right to lead us proud Germans into Armageddon? What the hell is next?? We are already catering to the Immans, Banks and Homosexuals and now? Gauck get married and make us proud of you, even if it is only for morality"s sake. It is after all, (for here and now) the right thing to do........
15:38 March 24, 2012 by Clarissa Smith
Kennneth Ingle said:

"It is rather strange to see how many European countries were, or are, being run by leaders who are not even capable of sorting out their own family life. Morality would no longer seem to be a requirement when decisions of national or world importance are made."

________________________

What has marriage got to do with morality? Would you call Newt Gingrich's marriages morality?? Ha! I'm happy NOT to have this insanely stuffy GOP attitude here in Berlin. Long live Stephanie Miller and her sexy Liberals!
09:56 March 27, 2012 by Gaffers
Lots of judgement going on in the comments. Do we know any of the background why he is seperated from his wife or why they have chosen to divorce?

Either way it is irrelevant as it does not affect his ability to do the job. I do not base my judgments of morals based on religious beliefs. I do not want to be ruled by anyone who bases their decisions on a fictional god. Any persuasion towards one religion or another automatically makes them biased and I would prefer a leader who sees the whole picture and not just their distorted view of the world. They can them make decisions that is for the WHOLE population.

Sometimes marriages fail and for different reasons. Maybe it was the wife that was the problem. It isn't always them man's fault !!
11:12 March 28, 2012 by nitseen
Marriage is going out of fashion and its very very sad.
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