Federal Assembly set to elect German president | News | DW | 18.03.2012
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Federal Assembly set to elect German president

Joachim Gauck is poised to be elected Germany's third president in two years on Sunday when the Federal Assembly votes on the successor to Christian Wulff. Gauck already has government and opposition backing.

A human rights campaigner and former Lutheran pastor, Gauck, 72, already has the backing of the three ruling coalition parties including Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), as well as the opposition Social Democrats (SPD).

"We expect a big majority (for Gauck)," said SPD leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier. This will "quickly restore dignity to the office," he added.

His only opponent will be Beate Klarsfeld, 73, an anti-Nazi activist endorsed by the small Left Party.

The president has little executive power but is looked to as somewhat of a moral compass for the nation.

Watch video 01:44

Gauck: The people's president

According to recent polls, some 80 percent of Germans trust Gauck to fill the role, but his appointment is being seen as potentially awkward for Merkel, who reluctantly accepted his candidacy after the resignation from the post of her ally, Christian Wulff.

Wulff stepped down following pressure over allegations that he had improperly accepted benefits or granted favors.

The Federal Assembly consists of members of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, and an equal number of political and non-political representatives from Germany's 16 states. The Assembly meets with the expressed purpose of electing the president.

The presidential inauguration is to take place Monday, with the winning candidate being sworn in before the Bundestag and the upper house, the Bundesrat, on Friday.

dfm/ch (Reuters, dpa)

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