Berlin, February 13: Germany's parliamentary assembly on Sunday elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Social Democrat and had been a vocal critic of US President Donald Trump, as the country's president. Notably, Steinmeier is now the 12th president of Germany post-war era. Frank-Walter Steinmeier is one of Germany's most popular politicians.
Steinmeier, a Social Democrat who had served as foreign minister until last month, won 931 of the 1,239 valid votes by lawmakers and representatives of Germany's 16 federal states. There 103 abstentions and 14 votes were invalid. As soon as Bundestag president Norbert Lammert announced the results, all representatives held a standing ovation except for a few dozen members of the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Steinmeier will take charge as President of Germany on 19 March f this year.
Lawmakers and representatives from various social fields delegated by Germany's 16 states are represented in the assembly. The post is largely ceremonial, but the president represents Germany abroad and is seen as carrying moral weight. Electors include Joachim Loew, the national football coach, and Olivia Jones, a colourful drag queen sent to vote by the Green Party in Lower Saxony.
Steinmeier will succeed current President Joachim Gauck, who decided to step down after a single five-year term in office, citing his advanced age of 77. In his acceptance speech, Steinmeier said that Germany should be an “anchor of hope” while democratic institutions were under threat across the globe. “As the foundations are shaking elsewhere, we have to prop up those foundations even more strongly,” he said.
Interestingly, Steinmeier is the first SPD president since Johannes Rau held the office in 1999. The 61-year-old Steinmeier served as foreign minister twice under Merkel - from 2005 to 2009 and from 2013 until one month ago earning particular praise for his engagement between Moscow and Kyiv during the Ukraine crisis. Prior to his diplomatic role, he served as Chancellor Gerhard Schroder’s chief of staff, helping to design and implement a 2003 package of economic reforms and budget cuts.
Importantly, Germany is the union's largest economy and has played a major role in the region's refugee crisis. The Merkel government has implemented an open-door policy that has welcomed more than 1 million asylum-seekers over the past two years.