Germany’s new President Joachim Gauck is elected by a large majority
Enlarge image (© picture alliance/dpa) Joachim Gauck was elected as the new head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany on March 18, 2012 in Berlin with one of the best results in the history of the country’s federal presidential elections. Gauck received 991 of the 1,228 valid votes. An overwhelming majority of the electors in the 15th Federal Assembly chose Joachim Gauck for the highest office in the land during the first round of voting. The new head of state, who is 72-years old, is the eleventh federal president to move into Bellevue Palace, the official residence of the federal president in Berlin. Gauck’s election had already been anticipated. The independent candidate had broad political support within the governing CDU/CSU and FDP coalition and the opposition parties, SPD and The Greens. Gauck’s only serious opponent was Beate Klarsfeld, who was nominated by The Left Party and received 126 votes.
“What a wonderful Sunday!” said the newly elected president at the beginning of his short speech following the announcement of the election results. The new German head of state was referring back to March 18, 1990, the day of the first free elections in the former GDR. That was the day when Joachim Gauck, who grew up in the GDR, voted in a free election for the first time – at the age of 50. It was a special moment for him: “I will never forget that election,” he said in his address. Germany’s new head of state has an interesting political biography: the theologian worked as a Protestant pastor in the former GDR and was active in both the church and the political protest movements that prepared the way for the peaceful revolution of 1989/1990. In reunited Germany, Jochim Gauck was made head of the archives of the former GDR’S secret police, the Stasi, in 1991. In 2010 he was a contestant in the federal presidential election, but lost to Christian Wulff in the third round of voting.
The new Federal President Joachim Gauck enjoys a great deal of trust. A survey carried out by the TV station ARD showed that 80 per cent of Germans regard him as trustworthy. However, a good third responded that they had no real idea yet about his concepts as the new German head of state. In addition to his great theme of freedom, about which he has often spoken in the past, Gauck will also have to express his position on other issues in the future. Immediately after his election he stressed that he intends to focus on other topics and issues of importance to Europe and the world. The first main elements of his presidency are already emerging: Gauck wants to inspire Germans for greater democracy, and he sees himself as the head of state for migrants living in Germany as well.
The new Federal President will be sworn into office in Berlin on March 23, 2012 before the assembled members of parliament and the Bundesrat in the German Bundestag