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People and Politics Forum 04. 06. 2010

"What do you expect from a good president?"

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More information:

After the resignation - what now?

Horst Köhler was the hand-chosen candidate of Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle. He was elected in 2004, before the Conservative-Free Democrat coalition came to power. Even before his resignation, the governing coalition led by Chancellor Merkel was already in difficult waters. Now it has another problem. The coalition must agree on a candidate and then organize a new election. What qualities should the new candidate have?

Our Question is:

"What do you expect from a good president?"

In Venezuela, Martin Burmeister lists some presidential tasks:

"A head of state in Germany must represent his country at home and abroad, and must check if draft legislation is compatible with the constitution. He must not get involved in everyday politics, though he has to point to domestic failings and inform the public."

Peter Pommeranz doesn't have any sympathy for the way Chancelor Merkel`s candidate was chosen:

"Just more wheeling and dealing between Mrs Merkel and the FDP leader Guido Westerwelle. The public will see through it...and it would be quite something if Mrs Merkel's favorite Christian Wulff failed to get the necessary quota of votes at the special assembly... because he's not the right man for the job."

Helge Weyland, Argentina:

"What does 'achieve' actually mean? The President of Germany should be a strong personality who is there firstly for the German people and protects them from parliament in case laws are passed which are unconstitutional, and secondly to represent the German people abroad. This shouldn't be seen as an "achievement" but as the President's job."

Hannelore Krause, Germany:

"In the case of Germany, the Head of State is elected by the Federal Convention and stands at the top of the state. He represents the country abroad and represents it according to international law. He receives and visits foreign heads of state. He can influence public debate, give advice and also give criticism. However, he should himself be able to accept criticism when this is legitimate. The President of Germany should be charismatic, apolitical, an eloquent speaker, and should bring a lot of life experience to the job which he can then pass on to his people when necessary."

Gerhard Seeger, the Philippines:

"He shouldn't just appear to a credible figure, he should be a credible figure. A part of that is a strong personality connected with a strong will because he will have to assert himself over hardened politicians every now and again. I would like to see an impartial non-politician. It's easy even for experienced politicians to make mistakes and that shouldn't be used against any of the candidates - I'm not in a position to judge anyone. As a non-politician, he should represent the state and the people - politicians represent themselves enough already. You can write a lot about what you expect from a President but as no one can read minds, all we can do is hope that the elected person is up to the demands of the job and will be a good President."

Herbert Fuchs, Finland:

"A Head of State should be a respected personality both at home and abroad. He should speak good, clear German (...), be apolitical and spirited (...), and be a beacon of hope in these fast moving times. He should represent Germany throughout the world responsibly and for the good of the country. A second language would be very advantageous. All in all: the President shouldn't be arrogant in his actions. In other words, his feet should stay firmly on the ground."

Ralph Ahorn, Brazil:

"How convinced the party strategists are of their respective candidates will be seen in the number of politicians and independent citizens who will be dispatched to the Federal Convention by the regional parliaments."

In Brazil, René Junghans sets clear criteria:

"A head of state must be honest, highly intelligent and display wide-ranging knowledge about politics, scientific and cultural issues, and in-depth economic expertise, not just about his own country but also about other important states. He should also show willingness to inform himself about countries he's visiting - in fact, he should have the qualities of Germany's former president Horst Köhler."

Mr Junghans takes a closer look at Horst Köhler`s resignation:

"He might have been thin-skinned, but we are all sensitive when faced with unjustified, unscrupulous criticism. So it's a bit unsettling that nobody seems to have tried to persuade him to stay on. In my view, it was up to Chancellor Merkel...to talk to him and find out what triggered his farewell, and what made him so bitter. His resignation is a major loss for Germany and the country`s international standing."

The editors of 'People and Politics' reserve the right to abridge viewers' letters.