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German Press Review: A Blind Date with the President

Following Sunday’s election of Horst Köhler as Germany’s new president, Monday's German papers focus on the future role of the new head of state.

The Kieler Nachrichten believed that Köhler’s first speech made clear that he promises to be an independent president, though by no means a placid one. But whether his driving, demanding manner proves effective will depend on his ability to win over the underprivileged. The paper went on to say that Köhler’s dream is of a Germany of ideas – characterized by courage, creativity and a desire for innovation. But the daily pointed out that all this will mean little to the single mother on social welfare or the unemployed worker in his mid-50’s.

Der Tagesspiegel from Berlin meanwhile thought it is not a bad thing for Germany that the former head of the International Monetary Fund knows full well how the economic pressure of globalization is changing the pace of the world. This president has no intention of sheltering his people from the truth, believed the paper. A land of ideas, the power of freedom – these may be beautiful and important elements for a speech, said the daily, but they are also difficult endeavors if this path is truly adopted.

The Hamburger Morgenpost asked if there has been a change to the German constitution without anyone knowing about it. The paper observed that after Köhler’s election, the head of the Christian Social Union party, Edmund Stoiber spoke of a “political president,” while his colleague Angela Merkel from the Christian Democratic Union sister party described what she saw as an upcoming power shift. The daily reminded its readers that the position of president within Germany is purely representative. The paper felt that Köhler broke this rule in his first speech. He made some subtle criticisms of the current government’s politics – understandable, but not for the public sphere, the paper concluded.

The Frankfurter Rundschau meanwhile, saw the election of Horst Köhler as a step closer to power for the CDU/CSU and FDP parties. But it is still unclear if Angela Merkel’s default choice for president will become a unifying figure instead of divisive for the country, wrote the paper.

The Passauer Neue Presse thought it could be exciting that with the election of Horst Köhler, Germany has a president whose views on the most important questions today are known only to a small circle of politicians and personal friends – but not at all to the public. The daily expects the next few months to be a kind of “blind date” between the new president and Germany’s citizens, as both sides get to know each other.

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