German presidential election, 2009

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German presidential election, 2009
← 2004 23 May 2009 2010 →
  Horst Köhler.jpg Gesine Schwan in Heidelberg.jpg
Nominee Horst Köhler Gesine Schwan
Electoral vote 613 503
Percentage 50.08% 41.09%

President before election

Horst Köhler

Elected President

Horst Köhler

Coat of arms of Germany.svg
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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.[1]

The incumbent Horst Köhler (supported by CDU/CSU and FDP) stood for reelection and faced Gesine Schwan (supported by SPD and Alliance '90/The Greens).[2]

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,[3] but ultimately decided they would present their own candidate.[4] 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.

Frank Rennicke was nominated as the joint candidate of the NPD and its sister party the DVU.

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.[5] It has been seen by some as an important indicator for the federal elections in September.[5]

Composition of the electoral assembly[edit]

Party Seats  %
CDU/CSU 497 40.6%
SPD 418 34.2%
FDP 107 8.7%
The Greens 95 7.8%
The Left 90 7.4%
Bavarian Free Voters 10 0.8%
NPD 3 0.2%
DVU 1 0.1%
SSW 1 0.1%
non-faction members of the Bundestag 2 0.2%


23 May 2009
Candidates Votes  % Parties
Horst Köhler 613 50.08 CDU/CSU/FDP
Gesine Schwan 503 41.09 SPD/The Greens
Peter Sodann 91 7.43 Die Linke
Frank Rennicke 4 0.33 NPD/DVU
Abstention 10 0.82 -
Invalid 2 0.16 -
Not present 1 0.08 -
Total of cast votes 1223 99.92 -
Total votes 1224 100.00 -