German presidential election, 2012

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German presidential election, 2012
Germany
2010 ←
18 March 2012
→ 2017

  2011 Joachim Gauck.jpg Beate Klarsfeld (2012) cropped.jpg
Nominee Joachim Gauck Beate Klarsfeld
Party Independent Independent
Electoral vote 991 126
Percentage 80.43% 10.22%

President before election

Horst Seehofer (Acting)
CSU

Elected President

Joachim Gauck
Independent

Coat of arms of Germany.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Germany
Foreign relations

An early indirect presidential election was held in Germany on 18 March 2012, the last possible day following the resignation of Christian Wulff as President of Germany on 17 February 2012. Joachim Gauck was elected on the first ballot by a Federal Convention, consisting of the 620 members of the Bundestag and an equal number of members selected by the states of Germany based on proportional representation.[1][2][3][4]

On 19 February 2012, Joachim Gauck was nominated as the joint presidential candidate of the governing coalition (CDU, CSU, and FDP) and the opposition (SPD and Alliance '90/The Greens).[5] He also had the support of the Free Voters and the South Schleswig Voter Federation.

Background[edit]

In December 2011, allegations emerged concerning Christian Wulff’s former ties with affluent businessmen. While he was still Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Wulff denied having had any business ties with Egon Geerkens, despite having received a private home loan of about €500,000 from Egon's wife Edith in 2008 and which Geerkens had admitted arranging.[6] On 22 December 2011, Wulff made a public statement apologizing for his handling of the loan affair and conceded that he should have made his personal records available more quickly.[7]

Later, it was alleged that President Wulff had applied undue pressure to Springer Press to delay or even prevent initial revelations of the loan scandal.[8] By the beginning of January 2012, President Wulff had already lost public support, commentators were calling for him to resign, the opposition was again increasing pressure, and his own party was distancing itself from him over the allegations.[9]

On 4 January 2012, Wulff said in an interview that he wanted to stay in office and that the call to Bild editor Kai Diekmann had been a "serious mistake" that was "unworthy" of a president and for which he had already apologized.[10][11]

As more allegations of possible corruption emerged, the prosecutors in Hanover, the capital city of the state of Lower Saxony, asked the Bundestag to lift Wulff’s presidential immunity in order to investigate the possible granting or accepting of undue favors.[12] Pre-empting this, Wulff resigned on 17 February 2012,[13] explaining that the loss of the people's trust had damaged his effectiveness.

Procedure[edit]

To win, a candidate must win an absolute majority on one of the first two ballots or a plurality on the third. Until the new President was elected, Horst Seehofer of the Christian Social Union (CSU), President of the Bundesrat, served as acting head of state.[1]

Candidates[edit]

CDU, CSU, FDP, SPD, Greens, Free Voters and SSW[edit]

In the days following Wulff's resignation, the media speculated about several candidates, among them Joachim Gauck, Thomas de Maizière and Klaus Töpfer. Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would consult with the Social Democrats and The Greens to find a consensus candidate to replace Wulff.[14]

On 19 February 2012, the governing coalition's CDU, CSU, and FDP and the opposition SPD and Alliance '90/The Greens agreed on independent Joachim Gauck, the 2010 presidential candidate of the SPD and Greens, as their joint candidate. This happened after the FDP, the SPD, and the Greens had strongly supported Gauck and urged CDU to support him as well.[5] The SPD chairman, Sigmar Gabriel, had already stated on 17 February 2012 that Gauck was his party's preferred candidate, alleging that Gauck enjoys "great trust from the citizenry".[15] Reportedly, Merkel conceded to FDP chairman (and Vice-Chancellor) Philipp Rösler's staunch support for Gauck; the agreement was announced after the FDP presidium had unanimously voted for Gauck earlier on 19 February.[16] The Free Voters in Bavaria and the Danish minority party, the South Schleswig Voter Federation, also support Gauck.[17]

On the night of being nominated, Gauck warned Germans that he should not be see as "Superman" following two successive short-lived presidencies. In the week prior to the election, Die Zeit also said that Gauck could teach Germans that "we can learn that democracy means thinking and acting for one's self rather than waiting for political redeemers."[18]

Minor parties[edit]

Die Linke nominated Beate Klarsfeld, an activist who is not a member of any party, as a candidate.[19] The National Democratic Party of Germany nominated Olaf Rose, a historian who works as an adviser to the group of the NPD in the Landtag of Saxony.[20] The German Pirate Party considered naming a separate candidate[17] but failed to do so before the election.

Federal Convention[edit]

The number of seats per party is as follows:[21]

Party Members
(total)
Members Share
Bundestag MPs Länder delegates
CDU/CSU 486 237 249 39.2%
SPD 331 146 185 26.7%
Alliance '90/The Greens 147 68 79 11.9%
FDP 136 93 43 11.0%
The Left 124 76 48 10.0%
Free Voters (Bavaria) 10 0 10 0.8%
NPD 3 0 3 0.2%
Pirate Party (Berlin) 2 0 2 0.2%
SSW (Schleswig-Holstein) 1 0 1 0.1%
Total 1240 620 620 100%

Results[edit]

Voting started at noon.[18] At 14:24 on 18 March 2012, Gauck accepted his election.[22] He was elected in the first ballot with 991 votes in the Federal Convention.[23] Bundestag president Norbert Lammert announced the result. In reaction, Gauck exclaimed: "What a beautiful Sunday.",[24] also referring to the anniversary of 18 March 1990 when East Germans had been able to vote freely for the first time.

Candidate Nominating party Votes Percentage
Joachim Gauck CDU, SPD, FDP, Grüne, CSU 991 80.4
Beate Klarsfeld The Left 126 10.2
Olaf Rose NPD 3 0.2
Abstentions 108 8.8
Total 1,228 100
Eligible voters/turnout 1,232 99.4
Source: Wahlrecht.de[25]

Reactions[edit]

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso congratulated Gauck. Quoting Goethe, he said: "Freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew."[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Chris Morris (17 February 2012). "German President Wulff quits in home loan scandal". BBC News. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "German Presidential Vote Set For March 18". Rferl.org. 20 February 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "15. Bundesversammlung zur Wahl des Bundespräsidenten – Hochrechnung der Zusammensetzung". Wahlrecht.de. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "German Bundestag: Election of the Federal President". Bundestag.de. 16 February 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "German government, opposition agree on Joachim Gauck as candidate for the country's presidency". Newsday. New York. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "'President Wulff Lied'". Spiegel Online International. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "German President Apologizes for Handling of Loan Affair". Spiegel Online International. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  8. ^ l "President Accused of Threatening Tabloid Newspaper". Spiegel Online International. 1 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "'Wulff Has Destroyed His Last Remnants of Credibility'". Spiegel Online International. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "Fernseh-Interview von Bundespräsident Christian Wulff". Office of the Federal President. 4 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "President Wulff clings on". The Local. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "German President Wulff quits in home loan scandal". BBC News. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "German President Resigns – Wulff Announces He Will Step Down". Spiegel Online International. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  14. ^ Chambers, Madeline (17 February 2012). "Possible candidates for German presidency". Reuters. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  15. ^ Gauck Favorit der SPD für Wulff-Nachfolge, DTS, 18 February 2012
  16. ^ sueddeutsche.de GmbH, Munich, Germany. "FDP beharrt auf Gauck: Rösler feiert gefährlichen Sieg – Politik". sueddeutsche.de. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  17. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  18. ^ a b "Germany to elect outspoken rights activist as president". Ndtv.com. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "Präsidentschaftskandidatin: Linke schicken Klarsfeld gegen Gauck ins Rennen – SPIEGEL ONLINE – Nachrichten – Politik". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "Wahl des Bundespräsidenten: NPD stellt Historiker Rose als Kandidaten auf – SPIEGEL ONLINE – Nachrichten – Politik". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "Zusammensetzung der 15. Bundesversammlung" (in German). 
  22. ^ "Gauck ist neuer deutscher Bundespräsident «". Diepresse.com. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  23. ^ "Joachim Gauck elected as German president". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  24. ^ "Germany elects rights activist as president". Al Jazeera English. 4 October 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  25. ^ "Bundespräsidentenwahl durch die 15. Bundesversammlung" (in German). Wahlrecht.de. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  26. ^ "Germany swears in new president after scandals". CNN. Retrieved 19 March 2012.