Ex-foreign minister Steinmeier elected new German president

Feb 13, 2017, 00:41
Ex-foreign minister Steinmeier elected new German president

A German parliamentary assembly has elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier to become the country's next president by an overwhelming majority.

Steinmeier, who was formerly a foreign minister, is from the center-left Christian Democratic Party.

As foreign minister, Mr Steinmeier often acted as a voice of reason, bridging gaps and bringing people together. Like his predecessor, outgoing President Joachim Gauck, Steinmeier "is a man of dialog, who engages with his discussion partners with empathy and openness", Schuster said.

"Let's be fearless, because then we don't have to be afraid of the future", Mr Steinmeier said in his acceptance speech.

The role of president makes Steinmeier a moral authority and Germany's head of state, meaning he will represent the country overseas.

He said the world faces "rough times", but that Germany, as a functioning democracy, had the responsibility to fight for stability.

He was reinstated as foreign minister in 2013 as part of Germany's "grand coalition" between the CDU and the SPD, where he enjoyed consistently high popularity ratings.

A few years ago, Steinmeier took a several-months absence from politics, to donate one of his kidneys to his wife Elke Buedenbende. As former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's chief of staff, he was a main architect of Schroeder's 2003 package of economic reforms and welfare cuts. He also served as vice chancellor from 2007 to 2009.

Although the trained lawyer is usually measured in his speech, in the thick of last year's United States election campaign, Mr Steinmeier labelled Mr Donald Trump a "hate preacher".

The president as head of state represents Germany overseas, which might lead to tension in Berlin's relation with the United States.

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