Merkel made to sweat as her candidate Wulff struggles but is elected German President‎ - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Merkel made to sweat as her candidate Wulff struggles but is elected German President‎

Thursday, 1 July 2010
She may have enjoyed the weekend's World Cup result, but back at home German Chancellor Angela Merkel has problems. On Tuesday she faced another scare but at the end of the day was able to break a relieved smile as her preferred candidate Christian Wulff was elected as the country’s new federal president.

Christian Wulff (left) and Angela Merkel (Photo: the job is essentially a ceremonial one, if Mr Wulff, the conservative (CDU) premier of the state of Lower Saxony in north-western Germany, had been defeated it would send another blow to Ms Merkel’s centre-right government who despite winning a clear victory in previous national elections has seen its approval ratings plunge ever since.

In Germany, the president is a largely ceremonial head of state, but also has limited powers to block legislation and dissolve parliament. The post's present importance is mainly as a litmus test of whether Ms Merkel can control her ranks.

In the event, Ms Merkel must have been sweating buckets of nervous sweat as her candidate Mr Wulff had to go three rounds to secure the vote by the Federal Convention (Bundesversammlung, pictured left) during the nine-hour marathon after not managing to secure an absolute majority to win election.

The Bundesversammlung (Photo: Wulff won 600 votes (out of a possible 1244) in the first round and 615 in the second, as a number of members made their voice heard and voted against the party whip for rival candidates.

The Linke (left) party then withdrew its candidate, Luc Jochimsen, from the third round, in a move the party hoped would pave the way for its members to vote for the main opposition candidate, Joachim Gauck, but instead they abstained.

As a result, Mr Wulff scraped 625 in the third and final round. Mr Gauck, secured 494 votes, and according to the Guardian had to fight back tears as the result was announced before he then received a standing ovation from the opposition who had backed him.

Following his election, Mr Wulff said he was "extraordinarily willing" to accept the office and thanked Mr Gauck for what he called a "fair competition". His inauguration will take place this Friday.

But even though Ms Merkel’s candidate won, the members of her government that made their feelings clear by voting against the whip have made their message known and many in Germany believe that the damage to Ms Merkel’s credibility may prove to be irreversible.

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