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President Wulff

July 2, 2010

Christian Wulff has taken the oath of office in a ceremony held in the Bundestag in Berlin. This makes him the 10th president in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Germany's 10th president, Christian Wulff
Wulff said he would serve with 'joy, earnest, and humility'Image: AP

Christian Wulff was sworn in as Germany's new head of state on Friday, promising to serve the country dutifully as its 10th president.

"I am aware of the responsibility that comes with taking this office," Wulff told members of the lower house, the Bundestag, and the Bundesrat upperhouse, adding that he was "filled with joy, earnestness, and humility to serve Germany and Germans as president."

Christian Wulff in front of the German parliament
Wulff thanked former President Horst Koehler for his service to the nationImage: dpa

He vowed to inspire Germans to take an active role in politics in Germany and singled out the integration of foreigners into society as a key area in which German politics must improve.

"For me it will be important to establish connections in our society: between old and young, people from the East and the West, native Germans and immigrants, employers, employees and the jobless, people with and without handicaps," he said.

Wulff also addressed the debt crisis that has affected the stability of the eurozone, saying that higher penalties must be enforced for the kind of speculative trading that sparked the crisis.

"We must act to prevent the recurrence of crises of this magnitude. Therefore it is critical that we pursue the those whos caused it; bankers who break the rules must be held responsible for their actions, and tough rules must be implemented in financial markets.

Wulff, who belongs to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, was victorious in Wednesday's grueling three-round, nine-hour-long election, after being expected to sail into office with a comfortable majority in the first round.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
Well over half of the country sees Merkel's government collapsing soonImage: AP

'Major setback' for struggling government

According to the results released Friday of a poll commissioned by German public broadcaster, ARD, more than two-thirds of Germans expect Wulff to be a "good" president.

Of the over thousand Germans polled, just 13 percent said he wouldn't be able to perform the tasks required of him well.

Though the survey suggests that Germans are in support of Wulff, it also indicates that the population is deeply dissatisfied with the performance of the current coalition government of Merkel's Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats.

Almost 70 percent described Wulff's inability to obtain an absolute majority in the first round of voting on Wednesday as a "disgrace" and a signal of Merkel's poor governing abilities.

Less than one-third of those polled said Wulff's taking office would help the government regain control of the present situation.

Over 60 percent of the Germans asked said it wouldn't "take long" before the coalition would fall apart, prompting fresh elections.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AP/dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold