Headache for Angela Merkel as German president Joachim Gauck steps down

时间:2019-11-16  作者:钟陴革  来源:兴发平台  浏览:125次  评论:174条

Germany’s president, Joachim Gauck, has announced he will not stand for a second term in office, prompting an instant race to find his successor and effectively kick-starting the campaign for a general election in autumn of next year.

The 76-year-old former East German pastor and civil rights activist said he was stepping down despite appeals across the spectrum for him to stay in office, citing his advancing years.

His decision is likely to create difficulties for the , triggering a cross-party race for possible successors to be chosen less than six months before a 2017 general election.

“This decision was not easy for me,” said Gauck at his office in Berlin’s Bellevue Palace. “I do not want to commit myself for a further period of five years when I cannot guarantee that I will have the adequate amount of energy and vitality that is required. How one considers one’s own age is a very individual, very personal question. This is the way I have answered it for myself.”

He said it had been a huge honour to serve since 2012 as its 11th postwar president, a largely ceremonial, apolitical role. His successor will not be decided by direct vote, but by the political parties, along with a congress consisting of sportspeople, celebrities and other public figures.

While they might agree on a single candidate, it is more likely the parties will put up rival ones, particularly at a time when there is a lack of unity over Merkel’s refugee policy, most notably within her own grand coalition government of the Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democrats (SPD).

Mooted candidates for the post so far include Merkel’s own CDU finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble; the current foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the SPD, who is one of Germany’s most popular politicians; the speaker of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert (CDU), and the only female candidate, Gerda Hasselfeldt of the CSU.

Politicians and the public paid tribute to Gauck, with the justice minister, Heiko Maas, saying he had given dignity back to the office due to his high moral integrity after taking over from Christian Wulff, who resigned from the post after accusations he accepted favours from businesspeople while governor of the state of Lower Saxony.

Gauck rose to prominence towards the end of the East German regime in 1989 as a supporter of the civil rights movement. Following the he was elected into the last East German legislature. Between 1991 and 2000 he was responsible for overseeing the extensive archives of the former East German secret police, the Stasi.

When he became president in 2012, Die Zeit newspaper called it a “perfect East German triumph” because for the first time politicians with East German origins – Gauck and Merkel – occupied united Germany’s two highest posts.

He has so far focused upon attempts to redefine Germany’s role in the world, including requesting a heightened sense of responsibility from German people. He said the generous way many Germans reacted to the refugee crisis was a reflection of a new Germany of which he was proud to be a part.