Germany’s next president?

Berlin (dpa) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has referred to the cross-party endorsement of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as the country’s presidential candidate as a “common sense decision.”

Merkel confirmed the endorsement of the Social Democrat (SPD) politician during a conference call with the leadership of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), a source in the government told dpa Monday.

The CDU, which heads a grand coalition with the centre-left SPD, agreed to back Steinmeier in response to a suggestion from SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Merkel’s deputy.

“Steinmeier is going to be an excellent president. He represents responsibility, reliability and unity,” said Thomas Opperman, the head of the SPD’s parliamentary group, in response to the news.

The decision comes after protracted talks between the leaders of the SPD, the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

The CSU hasn’t yet officially announced its own endorsement, but its leader, Horst Seehofer, said Monday that the parties were “in agreement.”

Despite their long-standing relationship as political allies, the parties have been locked in dispute since last year, when the CSU began pushing for a cap on the number of refugees entering the country.

After a presidential candidate is officially put forward, he must be approved by a special constitutional convention on February 12. Each term runs for five years.

Although the role of German president is largely ceremonial, the candidate is meant to represent Germany internationally; the presidency is therefore hotly contested between rival parties.

Martin Schulz, the German president of the European Parliament, is widely expected to be chosen by Merkel’s government to replace Steinmeier as foreign minister.

Source: dpa

Article source: