Christian minister to be the new president of Germany
Joachim Gauck will be the next German president. How did this controversial conservative gain this kind of power? A subjective comment/analysis
4 out of 5 parties support controversial minister
After Germany's president Christian Wulff resigned due to his recent scandals, which I won't describe here as the debate over him is starting to annoy me, it was time for the 5 major political parties of the German parliament to decide the new "leader" of Germany. To clarify the position of the "Bundespräsident" to non-German readers: He is the nominal leader of Germany, but really has no political power except for the right to veto bills. I personally believe that paying 200.000€ per year for pensions of retired ex-presidents is a huge waste of taxpayer money, but I will not discuss this issue here though I might write a text on it later.
Yesterday, only one day after the retirement of Wulff, a new candidate for the job was found: Joachim Gauck, a protestant minister, is supported by 4 of the 5 parties in the German parliament, the "Bundestag".
A strange consensus
The process in which the new candidate was decided, is, in my opinion, even more ridiculous than the nomination itself. It all started in 2010, when Horst Köhler suprisingly retired from the office. Jürgen Trittin, the Bundestag-speaker of the Green party, nominated the ultra conservative Gauck to put pressure on Angela Merkel, who would not vote for the Green candidate out of principle. In this political bluff he was supported by the social democrats lead by Sigmar Gabriel.
Their calculus was temporarily successful since it forced Merkel and her libertarian coalition partner FDP to nominate and elect the more moderate Christian Wulff.
Now that Christian Wulff retired after the shortest term for any German president in history, the pressure shifts back on the social democrats and the greens who now have to support the candidate they never actually wanted to elect. The FDP, which is struggling to get the 5% of votes required to stay in the parliament after the next election, used this opportunity to support Gauck as well. This lead to a reportedly huge quarrel within the coalition and forced Angela Merkel to get behind Gauck as well.
So now we have a strange situation in which every major political party except for the leftist party, which was against Gauck all along, supports a highly controversial candidate none of them can get excited about.
My problem with Gauck
Reading the text you might have wondered about what is so controversial about Gauck.
Well, first of all I find it very problematic to choose a minister as the leader of a country in which only a third of the population feels close to the Christian church.
Furthermore, Gauck is also a supporter of the works of Thilo Sarrazin, a right wing populist whose racist rants stirred huge controversy two years ago. I think it is safe to say that inspiring words like "Islam is a part of Germany" (Wulff) cannot be exspected by Gauck. Instead, he speaks in favor of indefinite data preservation while calling occupy activists silly romantics.
Last but not least he opposed the widely accepted nuclear phase-out completely ignoring the catastrophe of Fukushima and it's implications on nuclear safety.
As a secular, non-racist socialist in favor of a free internet, I will never accept him to represent me. It will be fascinating to see whether this choice (Germans don't actually get to vote) will effect everyday politics and if it will indeed hurt Merkel.