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Germany

Press review: Wulff nominated as next German president

Chancellor Angela Merkel has nominated Christian Wulff, the state premier of Lower Saxony, as Germany's new head of state. German newspaper commentators were divided over her choice.

Christian Wulff

Christian Wulff could be the next president of Germany

Germany's government has nominated the 50-year-old state premier of Lower Saxony as its candidate for the nation's presidency. Chancellor Angela Merkel chose Christian Wulff to replace President Horst Koehler as Germany's new head of state after Koehler's surprise resignation earlier this week.

Across Germany, reactions to Wulff's nomination were mixed, with much of the press commentary focusing on who was not chosen for the post - namely Merkel's rumored first-choice candidate, Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Financial Times Deutschland asks "Christian who?" and writes the fact that Wulff is moving into the presidential palace serves as "a sad piece of evidence for how little wriggle room CDU party leader Angela Merkel has in her own party." The paper goes on to say that Merkel's inability to push through her first-choice candidate was "far more worrisome than the idea of President Christian Wulff."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says Koehler's sudden resignation had lifted the lid on the traditionally rather opaque process by which candidates are chosen. Never before have people been able to get such an insight into the selection process. The paper says "the fact that ... Merkel could not get her favorite approved discloses the acute weakness that also affects the chancellor."

Speaking on the Thursday edition of the " Maybrit Illner" talk show on German state broadcaster ZDF, Free Democrat politician Jorge Chatzmarkakis said the reason von der Leyen was not nominated was because conservative politicians from the mainly Catholic south of Germany did not like to see two Protestant women, i.e. Merkel and von der Leyen, leading the country.

One of Germany's largest broadsheets, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, says Wulff has a tough road ahead of him. "He will have enough to do after his election in order to achieve the gravitas, seriousness and dignity that one expects from a president. [Finance Minister]Wolfgang Schaeuble would have already had it." The paper adds, however, that "because Wulff is an experienced party politician, the nomination is not as surprising as it may seem to many at first glance."

The regional daily Saechsische Zeitung says Wulff is a popular state premier in Lower Saxony. "Most perceive him as a nice, friendly man without any rough edges. He first began garnering political attention two months ago, when he brought a Turkish-born Muslim into his cabinet. That was brave, and let's hope that as president he is also able to think long-term. Because just being friendly and flattering will not be enough to give the necessary weight to the office."

The Stuttgarter Zeitung praises Wulff's nomination, and notes that he would be the "youngest candidate to serve in the office of president." The paper also praises his controversial decision to appoint a Muslim woman to a ministerial post. The daily saw the choice as a breath of fresh air, writing "with the decision yesterday, the coalition has stirred the hope that lethargy doesn't necessarily have to be their trademark."

smh/AFP/dpa

Editor: Martin Kuebler

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