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Germany's former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected as the country's next president on Sunday. Steinmeier, a Social Democrat who had served as foreign minister until last month, won 931 of the 1,239 valid votes by lawmakers of Germany's 16 federal states, becoming the 12th person to hold the largely ceremonial post in Germany's post-war era. He will succeed current president Joachim Gauck, a 77-year-old former pastor and pro-democracy activist from east Germany, when he steps down on March 18.
Germany's new president Frank-Walter Steinmeier
His election was largely predetermined last November, when as reported at the time, Angela Merkel suffered her latest a political setback "by accepting that foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a candidate from the rival Social Democrat party, should be the country’s next president. Steinmeier was likely to be voted into the largely honorary post with reluctant backing from the chancellor’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance, which has failed to find a suitable candidate"
Merkel's reported antagonism to the candidate, however, was not on display after Bundestag president Norbert Lammert announced the results, at which point all representatives held a standing ovation except for a few dozen members of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Reuters reports. The anti-immigrant AfD, which has no lawmakers in the lower house but holds seats in 10 of Germany's 16 state parliaments, is forecast to be the third-largest party after a general election on Sept. 24.
"I have faith in him to lead our country in these difficult times," Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking a fourth term, said after the vote.
The presidency of Steinmeier, while ceremonial, may spark a pro-Kremlin turn in Germany. Dubbed as "pro-Russian" during his foreign ministerial days, Steinmeier last year drew criticism when he said NATO's decision to stage military maneuvers in eastern Europe amounted to "saber-rattling". His Social Democrats prefer a softer stance towards Russia than Merkel's conservatives.http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-12/pro-russian-steinmeier-elected-german-president-putin-delighted