German President to Stand for Second Term as Merkel Era Ends

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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier plans to stand for a second term, providing a degree of stability as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s tenure comes to a close.

Steinmeier said he wants a chance to help lead Germany in the period after the coronavirus crisis as it tackles major issues like climate change.

“The pandemic has inflicted deep wounds,” he said in a statement to reporters in Berlin. “I want to help heal those wounds.”

The German president is the head of state. He officially proposes the chancellor, appoints cabinet members and can dissolve parliament, but in reality, the role has little decision-making power.

During Merkel’s 16-year chancellorship, there have been four presidents. Horst Koehler, Christian Wulff and Joachim Gauck served before Steinmeier was appointed in 2017.

The president is elected by the Federal Assembly, which includes lawmakers in the lower house of parliament as well as representatives from Germany’s 16 states.

“The president can’t set the political course, I am well aware of that, but the president can build bridges,” said Steinmeier. The 65-year-old previously served as foreign minister and ran as the chancellor candidate for the Social Democrats in 2009, losing to Merkel.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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