An indirect presidential election was held in Germany on 23 May 2009. The President of Germany was elected by the Federal Assembly, which is made up of the members of the Bundestag and an equal number of members nominated by the state Landtags.
The Left (successor of the Party of Democratic Socialism) indicated they might be prepared to support Schwan if the SPD agreed to be open to cooperation with the Left on the federal level, but ultimately decided they would present their own candidate. The party nominated party activist and TV actor Peter Sodann on 14 October 2008; and it was left undecided whether the party would support Schwan if Sodann was eliminated after the first round of voting.
Following the Hesse state elections in January 2009, which strengthened CDU and FDP, and the Free Voters' promise to support Köhler, his reelection was seen as likely; however, CDU/CSU, FDP and Free Voters only had a slim majority in the Federal Assembly (50.16%), which made the election very competitive. In the end, Köhler was reelected in the first round of voting by 613 votes, which was exactly the minimum number of votes necessary. His nearest rival's, Social Democrat Gesine Schwan, received 503 votes making a second round unnecessary. It has been seen by some as an important indicator for the federal elections in September.