• Germany's news in English

Germany to choose new president

DDP/DPA/The Local · 30 Jun 2010, 08:16

Published: 30 Jun 2010 08:16 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The Federal Assembly, made up of both houses of parliament in Berlin as well as an equal number of representatives from the states – a total of 1244 delegates – is set to hold the first ballot around noon.

The centre-right coalition of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) have a total of 644 delegates, which is 21 more than the absolute majority needed to elect their candidate Wulff, who is currently the premier of Lower Saxony.

However there has been some wavering in their ranks, with at least four members of the FDP vowing openly that they would vote for Gauck, a Protestant pastor and former dissident in communist East Germany, and several more refusing to reveal how they will vote.

The big question is whether there are enough other dissenters in the closet to tip the vote Gauck’s way or at least force a second and third ballot, giving Gauck added momentum.

The vote is widely seen as a crucial test for Chancellor Merkel, who is already weakened by her lukewarm performance and the constant bickering within her coalition since last September’s election. Though the job as head of state is largely ceremonial, the controversies and fierce debate this time around have lended a heavy political significance to the position.

The process was triggered by the surprise resignation exactly 30 days ago of President Horst Köhler over controversial remarks he made about the Afghanistan war, which he said was partly being fought for economic reasons.

Wulff, meanwhile, expressed confidence Tuesday evening that he could win in the first round.

“There is a fair chance that it will come together in the first ballot, but no one knows,” he said.

Further complicating matters is the possible support for Gauck of the socialist Left Party and the Free Voters, a bloc of non-party affiliated members of various parliaments, who have also expressed a preference for Gauck but will vote independently.

Story continues below…

The Left is fielding its own candidate, Luc Jochimsen, a former TV journalist and now a Left MP. If she is knocked out in the first round, the question becomes whether the party will support Gauck. General Secretary Dietmar Bartsch pleaded with his party Tuesday night to keep an open mind if it came to a second ballot, though some MPs, Jochimsen herself included, have said they would not vote for Gauck under any circumstances.

An absolute majority – or more than 50 percent of the votes is needed to win the first or second ballots. If no candidate gets an absolute majority in either of these, then the third ballot is decided on a relative majority, meaning the candidate with the most votes wins.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
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