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Germany

Christian Wulff is government nomination for German president

The state premier of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, is the government's candidate for German president. The announcement was made on Thursday evening by Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Christian Wulff

Wulff would be Germany's youngest-ever president

Germany's governing coalition on Thursday announced their candidate for president is the state premier of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff.

Chancellor Angela Merkel led the proposals for Wulff as the successor to Horst Koehler, who resigned unexpectedly at the start of the week.

Wulff has governed the state of Lower Saxony since 2003 and would be Germany's youngest-ever president. He is a deputy leader of Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU).

In accepting the nomination, Wulff said the office of president was "a great duty, with great responsibility."

He added he "looked forward to the challenge" and would try to "bring optimism in difficult times."

Guido Westerwelle, Angela Merkel, Christian Wulff and Phillip Roesler

Christian Wulff enjoys support across and within party lines

Broad coalition support

In a statement in Berlin, Chancellor Merkel endorsed Wulff, saying he was "always curious about people, trying new things and creative."

Merkel was supported by her coalition allies the Free Democrats (FDP) and the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU.

Leader of the FDP Guido Westerwelle said Wulff was a man with a "clear inner compass."

"He understands the need to be there for all citizens, but also the spiritual needs of our republic," said Westerwelle.

Next stages

The opposition Social Democrat and Green parties have announced their candidate as 70-year-old Joachim Gauck. The former East German civil rights leader and theologian is so far the only candidate standing against Wulff.

The Federal Convention is scheduled to vote on the new president at the end of the month. The assembly is made up of 1,244 state and federal lawmakers, and Merkel's coalition has a majority.

The role of the German president is largely ceremonial, although the president does sign off on legislation and is seen as a figurehead on national issues.

cb/dpa/AFP
Editor: Rob Turner

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