The father of the nation: why Steinmeier is on a post of the President

The father of the nation: why Steinmeier is on a post of the President

Sunday, February 12, in Germany the election of the President. According to the Constitution, Germany is a Federal Republic with a parliamentary form of government. The President, along with the Chancellor and the government, vested with Executive power. However, unlike the Chancellor, who is the head of government forms the Cabinet of Ministers, the powers of the President of Germany significantly limited.

The father of the nation

The powers of the President were significantly limited in the post-war Constitution of 1949. Now the President of Germany has the right to sign and publish Federal laws to nominate the Chancellor to the Parliament and then approve it in post, but in view of the Chancellor he appoints and dismisses from duty the Federal Ministers.

The President of Germany is exercised by the constitutional oversight of legislative activity, and in some cases exercises the right of pardon. He also represents Germany in international legal relations, concluded on behalf of Germany treaties with foreign States and accredit diplomatic representatives.

However, assume the role of President is purely ceremonial still not worth it, emphasizes the Deputy Director of the Institute of Europe RAS Vladislav Belov. “The President represents the country abroad, to consolidate the society in the country, approves all laws and government. In fact, the Federal President is the conscience of the nation”, — said Belov.

The procedure for the election of the President of Germany

The President is elected for five years by the Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung) is a constitutional body, which meets for this purpose.

The collection includes all 630 members of the Bundestag (lower house of Parliament) and 630 representatives of regional parliaments (Landesparlamente). The meeting is convened by the President of the Bundestag, and the election is held without debate.

The first round of voting begins at noon with a roll-call of each member of the Federal Assembly. Caused leaves the room, gets the electoral certificate, a ballot and an envelope. The voter puts the completed ballot in the envelope, losing their electoral certificate and returned to the meeting room, puts the envelope into one of the urns.

Allowed three rounds of voting. If in the first two rounds majority vote of all members of the Federal Assembly is not received by any of the nominees elected is the one who will gather in the third round the highest number of votes. After counting the President of the Bundestag refers to the name of the winner and, addressing the members of the Federal Assembly, delivers a ceremonial phrase: “the Federal Assembly ended. Your task fulfilled.”

Angela Merkel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Photo: Stefanie Loos / Reuters

The ideal candidate

The German government formed a so-called Grand coalition of the two largest parties — the center-right bloc, represented by the Christian democratic and Christian social unions (CDU/CSU) and Social democratic party of Germany (SPD). In the Federal Assembly for representatives of the ruling coalition secured 923 places, the other six parties divided among the remaining 337 seats.

So when in November the leaders of the parties who are part of the ruling coalition agreed to nominate foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the Federal presidency, the election outcome was a foregone conclusion. Besides, Steinmeier supported the “Green” and the Free democratic party of Germany (FDP).

However, in elections will take part four candidates — Christophe Butterwegge from the “Left party”, Albrecht Glaser from the “Alternative for Germany”, the candidate of the “Free voters” Alexander Khol and Engelbert, Sonneborn from the “Pirate party”.

From Steinmeier huge professional experience, which makes it an ideal candidate for this position, emphasizes Belov. “He has always been moderate and were largely “non-partisan” Minister — said the expert. — Given that the President represents the country abroad, Steinmeier as an experienced diplomat, inclined to seek compromise, is well-suited for this role”.

Steinmeier has a very good reputation among citizens, which is important for such a unifying figure as President. According to the monthly polls Infratest for ARD television, Steinmeier in recent years is one of the most popular politicians in the country, and in February 2016 — and generally most popular.

According to the latest poll for February 2017, Steinmeier appreciate 79% of Germans, and the negative — only 15%. For comparison, Merkel’s approval rating is 55% against 44% who disagree with its policies.

The nomination of a candidate for President of Germany from both major parties — a rare phenomenon, says Belov. According to him, there are several reasons.

First, the CDU/CSU has not found a strong candidate that can compete with such a popular figure, as Steinmeier. Second, the party Merkel appreciated the step Steinmeier, who in October refused to fight for the post of leader of the SPD, that is the main rival of Merkel in the parliamentary elections, focusing on the presidential campaign. In addition, Steinmeier is now 61 years, and the outgoing President Joachim Gauck — 77. Even if Steinmeier will go for a second term, after the resignation ten years later, he still remains a relatively young politician will be able to continue his political career.

From the point of view of Steinmeier, the decision to move away from party politics may reflect a reluctance “to step into the same river twice” emphasizes Belov: earlier, Steinmeier has headed the SPD and in 2009 he was the party’s candidate for the post of Chancellor, but after the defeat in the elections became the leader of the SPD faction in the Bundestag.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Frank-Walter Steinmeier was born on 5 January 1956 in Detmold (North Rhine — Westphalia). In 1974-1976 he served in the air force of the Bundeswehr, then joined the ranks of the Social democratic party of Germany (SPD).

In 1982 he graduated from the University of Justus Liebig in the city of Giessen (Hessen) majoring in “law and politics” and interned at several law firms. In 1991 he received the degree of doctor of law.

In 1991 he moved to Lower Saxony. There he met with Gerhard Schroeder, who was Prime Minister of this Federal land. Two years, 1993 and 1994, Steinmeier led his personal Bureau, and then held the post of head of Department of interdepartmental coordination and the Secretary of state of the state Chancellery of lower Saxony. From July 1999 to November 2005 — head of the office of the Federal Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder.

In 2005, for the first time became Minister of foreign Affairs of Germany.

In 2009-2013 — member of the Bundestag and head of the parliamentary faction of the SPD.

From 17 December 2013 to 27 January 2017 — again, the Minister of foreign Affairs of Germany.

2014 is Germany in the quadripartite negotiations in the “Normandy format” on settlement of crisis in Eastern Ukraine. The author of “formula Steinmeier”, according to which the law “On special order of local government in certain districts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions” shall enter into force provisionally on the day of local elections in the Donbass, and on a regular basis — after confirmation by the OSCE of the fact that the democratic vote.