Germany′s vice chancellor abruptly ends talks with Merkel over presidential succession | News | DW | 13.11.2016
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Germany's vice chancellor abruptly ends talks with Merkel over presidential succession

Despite a promise to deliver a candidate by the end of October, top politicians in Berlin have been unable to agree on who to nominate for president. A number of big names have already been rejected.

The acrimony in Berlin over choosing a successor to President Joachim Gauck showed no sign of abating on Sunday.

Three quarters of an hour into a discussion on the matter, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel stormed out of the meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer.

Although the German president is largely a ceremonial head of state, the person in office is meant to represent the entire country to the outside world and therefore candidates can be hotly contested between rival parties.

This has been especially problematic as the Social Democrat (SPD) vice chancellor and the Christian Democrat (CDU) chancellor continue to butt heads, not only with each other, but also with Seehofer, the leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU.

After a candidate is put forward, they must be approved by a special constitutional convention. Terms run for five years, with a limit of two terms. In June, Gauck announced he would not seek a second term because of his advancing age, despite political will for him to stay.

Candidates rejected

The government had promised to have a candidate to present by the end of October, but both sides have been unable to agree on which one. Several proposals have been shot down, such as Andreas Vosskuhle, the current leader of Germany's highest court.

Most recently, Merkel and Seehofer rejected Gabriel's suggestion that SPD member Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current foreign minister, become the country's next president.

The Left party joined the conservatives in condemning the choice and accused Gabriel of throwing out a new candidate "practically every Sunday."

Berlin announced that a new meeting on presidential succession was set for Monday.

es/rc (AFP, dpa)