Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s former foreign minister, has been elected as the country’s new president. Steinmeier on Sunday won 931 out of 1,239 valid votes cast by the members of the Federal Assembly, which is made up of 630 federal members of parliament and an equal number of delegates from 16 states. The position of president in Germany is largely ceremonial, because the chancellor is the official head of government and has a higher profile on the world stage.
Steinmeier previously served as vice chancellor and foreign minister under current Chancellor Angela Merkel. He was elected by the vast majority of the assembly, receiving 931 out of 1,253 votes. His predecessor, Joachim Gauck, did not seek another term and will step down on March 18. Steinmeier, 61, has been a vocal critic of US President Donald Trump. He described Trump in August as a “hate preacher,” likening him to right-wing populists in Europe. Germany is the union’s largest economy and has played a major role in the region’s refugee crisis. The Merkel government has implemented an open-door policy that has welcomed more than 1 million asylum-seekers over the past two years. While on a tour of Germany to promote his candidacy, Steinmeier emphasised mutual respect, strengthening democracy, taking a broader view, tolerance and solidarity as the ideas that will inform his presidency. The German president has little executive power, but is considered an important moral authority and symbol of the country as its host for visiting dignitaries.