Germany elects new president

By Rebecca Colnes
Staff Writer

Former German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected the German president on Feb. 12.

Steinmeier is the 12th German President since World War II, The News Nigeria reported.  

Steinmeier has  a 79 percent approval rating this month, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  

The special assembly that elected Steinmeier is made up of 630 members of parliament’s lower house as well as an equal amount of representatives from Germany’s 16 states.

Steinmeier garnered 931 of 1,260 votes, Fox News reported.  

There were 100 representatives that abstained from the vote, which is cast as a secret ballot, according to The News Nigeria.  

According to the same source, Steinmeier faced four opponents for the position: Christopher Butterwegge, Albrecht Glaser, Alexander Hold and Engelbert Sonnebom.  

Steinmeier succeeds Joachim Gauck, 77, who has held the position since 2012. Gauck does not want to serve a second five-year term because of his age, according to Fox News.

Gauck was a participant of the pro-democratic movement in East Germany and was dedicated to the rights of freedom, DW Akademie — Germany’s leading international media development organization — reported.

The same source reported that Gauck has been as popular as Chancellor Angela Merkel, especially among Western Germans, but opinions have been divided among the Eastern Germans.

The German president has little executive power. Most of the power is held with the German Chancellor. The president is a symbol of the country and and a moral authority, according to Yahoo News.  

Steinmeier is known to be diplomatic, but is a strong critic of President Donald Trump. He describes Trump as a “hate preacher,” according to Fox News.

Steinmeier has also expressed concern about Trump’s comments that NATO is obsolete, CNN reported.

Merkel has expressed her willingness to cooperate with Trump, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  

The same source reported that despite Steinmeier’s dismay for Trump, he believes Germany will remain an “anchor of hope,” in the world.  

Prime minister Angela Merkel has expressed congratulations to Steinmeier. (AP Photo)

After Steinmeier was elected, Merkel said, “This is a good day for Germany,” according to Fox News.

Steinmeier was Merkel’s former chief of staff and has served twice as foreign prime minister from 2005 to 2009 and from 2013 until he was elected president. He has also served as vice chancellor, according to CNN.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Steinmeier and extended an invitation for him to visit the Kremlin, Yahoo News reported.