Tuesday, June 1, 2010

German President Resigns, Successor To Be Elected on 30 June

Following President Horst Koehler's unexpected resignation on 31 May over fierce criticism of comments he made on Bundeswehr missions during a visit to Afghanistan on 22 May. The Federal Convention will elect his successor on 30 June.

Resignation Statement
Announing his resignation, Koehler said: 'I regret that my comments led to misunderstandings in a question so important and difficult for our nation. But the criticism has gone as far as to accuse me of supporting Bundeswehr missions that are not covered by the constitution. This criticism is devoid of any justification. It lacks the necessary respect for my office,' Koehler said in his resignation statement.

According to the German Constitution, the selects Federal Convention the federal president. The Federal Convention is Germany's largest parliamentary body, where all of the members of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, are entitled to vote, as well as a corresponding number of representatives from the federal states. The federal president is elected by secret ballot, without a prior debate, and requires an absolute majority.

The ruling coalition, the Christian Democratic Union and the Free Democratic Party, will have 22 votes more than the required absolute majority. The exact number is not yet known as the diet of North Rhine-Westphalia has not yet been formed following the 9 May election there.

Election of New President
It has been that announced that the Federal Convention will meet on 30 June to elect a new president. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition is expected to hold the majority in the Convention, the opposition will have no way of opposing the government's choice. But Merkel has indicated they would try to find someone who would be accepted by government and opposition alike.

Bundesrat president Jens Boehrnsen from Bremen will be the acting president until the election of a new president.

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