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Gauck not intending to damage Merkel in presidential race

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Gauck not intending to damage Merkel in presidential race
A demonstration for Gauck in Hamburg. Photo: DPA
10:48 CEST+02:00
Presidential candidate Joachim Gauck says he will not allow himself to be used to damage Chancellor Angela Merkel, and after a one-on-one meeting with her candidate Christian Wulff, said he was qualified to do the job in his way.

Gauck, a former pastor and civil rights activist in East Germany, strongly identified with the peaceful protest movement there and the open administration of the Stasi files afterwards, was nominated as candidate by the Social Democratic Party and the Greens to run against Wulff.

He described Wulff, currently state premier of Lower Saxony, as pleasant and said, “He is suitable in his way as I am in mine.”

He said he did not think his nomination had been made only to damage Merkel, and that numerous signals of support from the conservatives and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), as well as from the public, had convinced that his candidacy made sense.

But he admitted he was not sure that the SPD and Greens would have nominated him if they had had a majority in the national assembly of MPs and state representatives which will elect the president on June 30.

“I am intelligent enough to be able to see through tactical intentions. But my rudeness is not so big that I would now interpret those who nominated me in that way,” he told the Bild am Sonntag weekly paper.

He also said he would not refuse support from the socialist Left party, despite its links with the former socialist party which ran East Germany.

“Anyone who loves political resolution as I do, is welcome to me,” he said, although he added that he did not think he would need their votes to win the presidency.

“I think that the votes I need for success will come from the FDP and CDU. I stand much closer to their political value spectrum,” he said.

Gauck also said that he and his partner, Daniela Schadt, are considering marrying, should he be elected. “You can assume that we are of course thinking about it. I am not an enemy of conventional arrangements,” he said in an interview with glossy magazine Super Illu.

Schadt currently works as a journalist in Nuremberg while Gauck lives in Berlin. If he were to become president, she would give up her job and move to the capital.

“Daniela is an adult, politically-experienced woman to whom it is clear that as partner of the federal president, could no longer work as head of domestic politics in a newspaper. She would be happy in that case to stand by my side and to do what the office requires her as partner to do,” he said.

The broad support Gauck has attracted has been seen as very damaging to Merkel, particularly as some politicians from her own ranks have said he is the more attractive candidate and someone who could attract support from the whole country.

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