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Germany

Social Democrats May Put Up Female Presidential Candidate

German university president Gesine Schwan has said she is ready to run for the presidency, a largely ceremonial position currently held by Horst Koehler.

Koehler und Schwan

Koehler, while well-liked, may have competition from Schwan

A meeting between Schwan and leaders of the Social Democratic (SPD) party fueled speculation that Schwan will once more run for office.

SPD Secretary General Hubertus Heil acknowledged that party leaders had met with Schwan, who is president of the Europa University in Frankfurt an der Oder.

Awaiting statement from Koehler

But he reiterated the SPD position that a candidacy decision would first be made after Koehler clarified his stance on a possible second term as president.

Preparation for a convention on the future of the SPD, slated for May 31, was at the center of the talks. Leaders from two other political parties, the ruling CDU and the opposition FDP, have called for SPD leader Kurt Beck to publicly endorse Koehler for a next term. Koehler is a member of the CDU.

Schwan already ran for the job in 2004, when she lost narrowly to Koehler. Some SPD politicians have recently begun talking about a new candidacy for Schwan. On Sunday, May 18, she was refusing to comment on the matter.

Germans stand behind female presidency

According to the mass circulation newspaper Bild however, Schwan had already signalled to the inner circle of SPD leaders that she is ready to run if the party wants her to.

According to a poll by Emnid for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, 60 percent of Germans say it is time for the country to have a female president.

SPD party leaders Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Peer Steinbrueck and Andrea Nahles were at the meeting, along with party treasurer Barbara Hendricks and parliamentary party leader Peter Struck.

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