13 February 2017 Current Affairs: Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected as the new President of Germany on 12 February 2017 by a special Parliamentary assembly. He became the 12th person to hold the post in the post-war era.
The special assembly comprised 630 federal Members of Parliament and an equal number of representatives from Germany’s 16 Federal states.
Highlights : Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, won the election with an overwhelming majority. He got 931 out of total 1260 votes.
There were 103 abstentions and 14 votes were declared invalid.
The results were announced by Norbert Lammert, the President of Germany’s constitutional body, Bundestag.
Steinmeier’s win was welcomed with a standing ovation by most members excluding a dozen belonging to the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose presidential candidate received just 42 votes.
Steinmeier got a lot of support in the election from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “grand coalition”. The coalition comprises centre-right and centre-left parties.
In his acceptance speech, Steinmeier encouraged the people of Germany to be brave and not be afraid of the future. He also spoke about how Germany, a difficult fatherland, has become an anchor of hope for many across the world.
Steinmeier will be taking oath on 19 March 2017, a day after current President Joachim Gauck steps down from his position.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier : Born in 1956, Steinmeier holds a doctorate in law and was formerly serving as a civil servant.
He had close relations with Gerhard Schroder, the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony and served as his chief of staff from 1996.
He was appointed as the Under Secretary of the State in the German Chancellery in 1998 when Schroder became Germany’s Chancellor. He was handed the responsibility of overseeing intelligence services. He has held the post of Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs twice from 2005 to 2009 and very recently from 2013 to 2017, both times under the rule of Angela Merkel’s ‘grand coalition’.
He also additionally served as the country’s Vice Chancellor from 2007 to 2009. In 2016, he was elected as the Chairman-in Office of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Steinmeier is widely respected for taking a strong stand on issues significant to the people of Germany. With his win now, hopes are high that he will work to support the country’s reputation as a global defender of tolerant liberal values.