BERLIN: Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is poised to become Germany’s next president, after the two main parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand right-left coalition agreed to back his nomination, party sources said on Monday.
Party leaders have been wrangling for a over whom to nominate as a potential successor to President Joachim Gauck, a 76-year-old former pastor from the former communist East Germany who is stepping down due to his advanced age.
On Monday, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) agreed on Germany’s most popular politician, Steinmeier, whose name had been put forward by his Social Democratic Party.
The third party in the coalition — the CDU’s Bavarian allies CSU — is expected to announce its decision later Monday. Party sources said there is unlikely to be opposition to the plan.
The new president — a figure who is meant to transcend party politics and serve as a moral standard bearer for the nation — will be elected on February 12 by parliament and delegates from Germany’s 16 federal states.
Steinmeier, 60, has emerged in recent months as one of the most strident critics of US President-elect Donald Trump.
He warned a day after Trump’s shock election that US foreign policy would become more unpredictable, making things “more difficult.”
The foreign minister has also been frank in expressing Germany’s disapproval of Turkey’s widening crackdown following a failed military coup in July.
The crackdown, Steinmeier said, should not be used as an excuse to muzzle the opposition.