• Germany's news in English

German media roundup: Köhler’s shocking departure

The Local · 1 Jun 2010, 12:43

Published: 01 Jun 2010 12:43 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Germany’s largely ceremonial head of state resigned after saying he had been unfairly criticised for supposedly linking economic interests with the country’s military deployments abroad.

The first time a German president has left office in such abrupt fashion and just one year into his second term, Köhler leaves Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition with a massive political headache when it can least afford one.

Though the outgoing president had little political power, his departure is a heavy blow for Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their allies the Free Democrats (FDP), since Köhler was considered the coalition’s symbolic figurehead.

Already under fire for her handling to the eurozone debt crisis and the rocky start to her new government, Merkel now has to find a presidential candidate able to counter the impression Germany is falling to pieces in times of crisis.

The nation’s newspapers on Tuesday explored the episode’s ramifications for both Berlin and Köhler’s legacy as president. Many commentators said someone so thin-skinned was probably not the right person for the job.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said it was remarkable Köhler would quit over nonsensical claims he was trying to justify economic wars.

“Can it be that Köhler actually resigned over stupid talk? Probably much more important was the fact that no one of importance came to his defence,” the paper wrote. “His actions show just how fed up and wounded the president already was.”

The FAZ said his resignation had turned Köhler into a “tragic figure,” who had actually won widespread acceptance among average Germans. But despite being chosen for the job by Merkel in the kitchen of FDP boss Guido Westerwelle, he always seemed out of step with their centre-right coalition.

“Köhler’s political isolation at the end must have been so dramatic that he could only help himself with an act of desperation,” the FAZ wrote.

The centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung said Köhler had unnecessarily toppled himself.

“He threw away the highest office in the land because he felt insulted,” the paper wrote. “He will now go down in history as the only president who resigned.”

The Munich based daily said Köhler’s successor should be someone who doesn’t confuse himself with the presidency, saying the former head of the International Monetary Fund was clearly overwhelmed by his duties.

Suggesting German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble as the right man for the job, the Süddeutsche Zeitung said the next president “should be a politician with the poise and courage to disagree and who sticks around when things get difficult.”

The right-wing daily Die Welt lamented that Köhler had deserved a better end to his political career.

“He wanted to be the president of all Germans with all his heart and soul. He travelled the country with unflagging verve,” the paper opined. “But in the end he must have realised he was sitting in the wrong place. Hopefully the politicians in Berlin will emerge wiser from this debacle.”

Story continues below…

But Die Welt said both Germany and Köhler would have been better off if he had willingly forgone a second term: “Maybe Horst Köhler was puzzled by the powerlessness of his office. He often failed to hit the right tone and he failed to rely completely on the power of the spoken word,” the paper said. “He wasn’t political enough and those that put him in the Bellevue Palace coldly let him fall.”

The leftist daily Die Tageszeitung said Köhler’s resignation laid bare the desolate state of Merkel’s government and that there had to be more to the president’s decision to quit than simply being insulted by public criticism.

“What does this resignation mean? First of all it’s a sign of Köhler’s emotional and nearly apolitical attitude toward the highest office in the land,” the paper wrote. “This lack of respect for the office is one reason this resignation leaves one so speechless.”

But the paper also took aim at Merkel’s “black-yellow” coalition of Christian and Free Democrats.

“Köhler’s unprecedented departure is the latest and strongest symptom of the black-yellow disintegration,” the paper opined. “The coalition’s policies appear unrealistic and outdated in the context of the historic crisis we find ourselves.”

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd