Germany: Steinmeier’s active presidency

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Series Details 08.02.17
Publication Date 08/02/2017
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Germany’s Federal Assembly elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) as president on 12 February 2017. He replaced Joachim Gauck who is stepping down after his first term. Steinmeier’s election is a foregone conclusion given the deal struck by the groupings forming the grand coalition who have a majority in the Federal Assembly as along with support from the Green Party and the FDP.

The German president is elected for a five-year term. The competences of the office are limited and are focused on representational functions. These increase when there is a parliamentary crisis as the president can order a new election to be held if a chancellor loses a vote of confidence. The president has no legislative initiative, and he can only veto laws in case the legislative procedure is formally violated or if a law is contrary to the constitution. The veto has been used eight times since 1949. The impact a German president has on political life mostly depends on their personality.

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Related Links
ESO: Background information: Steinmeier – a candidate for German president
ESO: Background information: German special assembly elects Frank-Walter Steinmeier as president

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