Photo: Getty Images/Carsten Koall
Germany elected Joachim Gauck as its next president with an overwhelming majority on Sunday, the German news agency DPA reports.Gauck, 72, received 991 votes from a special assembly of national and regional members of parliament, defeating his competitor, Nazi-hunter Beate Klarsfeld, who won only 126 votes, according to The Telegraph.
A former Lutheran pastor and civil rights activist, Gauck, is not part of any political party, and has gained a reputation for speaking his mind, even on controversial issues. In fact, 80 per cent of the German public consider him to be trustworthy, a television poll revealed, AFP reports. The media believes he would make an “uncomfortable” president for Germany’s established political parties. He describes himself as a “liberal left conservative”.
Incidentally, Chancellor Angela Merkel had supported Gauck’s predecessor Christian Wulff against Gauck in the 2010 presidential elections. This time, however, Gauck had her full support.
Gauck, the first president to hail from the former East Germany, has been described in Stasi files as an “incorrigible anti-communist”. He was at the forefront of the democratic movement in the East German state, and was made head of the body to investigate the excesses of the Stasi after the fall of the Berlin Wall, according to the BBC.
This was Germany’s third presidential election in three years, after the resignations of Gauck’s two predecessors. Horst Köhler, a former head of the IMF, quit after an uproar over comments that allegedly justified using the military to serve Germany’s economic interests; his successor, Christian Wulff, resigned last month in a scandal over receiving financial favours.
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