Frank-Walter Steinmeier Elected Federal President
Enlarge image Frank-Walter Steinmeier prepares to deliver is acceptance speech after being elected by the Federal Convention on February 12. (© picture alliance / Bernd von Jutrczenka) The Federal Convention met on Sunday, February 12, in Berlin and elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier Federal President. When he takes office on March 18, Steinmeier, until recently Germany's foreign minister, will succeed Joachim Gauck. He will be the 12th Federal President.
In his acceptance speech, Steinmeier recalled that once in his travels as foreign minister, a young Tunisian activist told him that Germany inspires her to be brave. Isn't it wonderful that Germany has become an anchor of hope for many people in the world, Steinmeier said. Germany inspires other people, not because everything is great here, he said, but because the country has shown that things can get better, that peace can come after wars, that reconciliation can follow division, that after ideological frenzy political reason can set in.
Enlarge image Chancellor Merkel congratulates Frank-Walter Steinmeier as Federal President Gauck, far left, and Foreign Minister Gabriel, second from left, look on. (© Bundesregierung/Kugler) However, in order to encourage others, Germany must be brave itself, Steinmeier said. Germany must have the courage to safeguard what it has. "Freedom and democracy in a united Europe--we want to defend this, our foundation. It is not invulnerable, but it is strong."
The Federal President is the head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany. He represents the country in its dealings with other countries and appoints government members, judges and high-ranking civil servants. He is elected by the Federal Convention, which is made up of members of the Bundestag and by an equal number of members selected by the 16 federal states. Those selected by the federal states are not always politicians, but sometimes leading community figures.