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Germany

Press review: presidential election shows coalition's weakness

Christian Wulff, the former premier of the state of Lower Saxony is Germany's new president. But the nine-hour long marathon to get Merkel's candidate elected shows the coalition's weakness, according to many editorials.

Angela Merkel and Christian Wulff

The strain is visible on Merkel's face as Wulff struggles to get enough votes

Most newspapers agree that the long drawn-out process to get the new German president elected has exposed German Chancellor Angela Merkel's and her governing coalition's loosening grip on power.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung writes that "next to nothing works without a hitch in this unfortunate coalition." The paper describes Merkel as someone "who is holding on to the doorknob, while an avalanche is tearing down the rest of the house." The fact that Merkel called the election result "satisfactory," the paper writes, shows that her standards have slipped.

The Dusseldorf-based Westdeutsche Zeitung contrasts the governing coalition with Germany's national team. "Unlike the German soccer team, the government has taken a hit," the paper writes. "Any hopes of demonstrating unity in the coalition with this presidential election and sending out a signal of a fresh start have failed. Merkel's power is crumbling."

Die Welt sounds a more positive note. "For the third time since 2004 Angela Merkel has managed to get her candidate for the presidency elected, while watching the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left party squabble," the paper writes. "Even a charismatic candidate like Joachim Gauck could not thwart her plans."

The Dresden-based daily Saechsische Zeitung concurs. "Historians may pinpoint this election as the beginning of the end of the first East German head of government, but there are reasons to doubt this view," the paper writes, pointing out that the opposition's bickering is working in Merkel's favor. "The government's crisis should act as a stimulus program for the opposition. Instead they are fighting like cats and dogs."

Germany's neighbors have also been mulling over the presidential elections.

A serious warning for Merkel is how Denmark's Information characterizes the long drawn-out election process. "She must recognize that in her own party, a mutiny is drawing closer."

Luxemburger Wort says the coalition faces difficult times: "Angela Merkel and her coalition can no longer avoid the realisation that the election process was a slap in the face for the chancellor."

Corriere della Sera from Rome agrees that the presidential election has clearly weakened the chancellor: "Angela Merkel has been politically humiliated like never before. If anyone still needed evidence, then this was the missing proof that illustrates her coalition government's crisis. "

The Vienna-based daily Die Presse says Christian Wulff is not the kind of president most Germans want. "That is evident from strong support for (Horst) Koehler (Wulff's predecessor) and the enthusiasm that saw Gauck elevated to a kind of Obama-on-the-Spree (referring to the river that runs through Berlin)." The paper says people are tired of party politics and that Koehler was so popular "because he didn't come across as party political despite being a member of the Christian Democrats."

Compiled by Nicole Goebel
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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