Joachim Gauck becomes new president of Germany
Amid the glow of beaming hopes and cheerful spectators in the Reichstag building, Berlin, Joachim Gauck was elected as Germany's 11th President on a bright Sunday morning. Later on, he aptly depicted the whole jubilant scenario as, ''what a beautiful Sunday for Germany''.
The former pastor and civil rights activist who strove hard against oppressive communist rule in former East Germany, contested the presidential election just to fulfill the legal obligation, otherwise, his success was pre-destined. He was jointly fielded by all the political parties except the Left party which put forth Franco-German Beate Klarsfeld as its presidential candidate. She succeeded in bagging only 126 votes. Whereas 108 delegates of the Electoral College known as the Federal Assembly, abstained from voting.
The recurrence of this specially convened Federal Assembly, charged to elect the new German president, took place less than two years after the last one, owing to the premature departure of former president Christian Wulf. He abdicated amid the growing outcry for his resignation, by virtue of his misconduct as state premier of Lower Saxony. This scandalous political drama provoked a great deal of public outrage and consequently marred the image of the presedential office. It is expected that Joachim Gauck's election would not only restore the dignity and prestige of the position, but also arguably reinvigorate its role which is otherwise largely ceremonial.
Just after his nomination as presidential candidate, he made his intentions clear that he wanted to be the people's president by bridging the gap between politics and public. On the eve of his election, he reasserted his lifelong cherished vision that he wanted to reacquire the public's confidence in government and politics and bring them back into the fold of active political participation. The former Stasi archives' commissioner also exhorted that both sides, politicians as well as the public, have to contribute equally to make Germany a free and democratic state in all respects. This is the mantra he repeated like a chorus throughout his life, campaigning for a free, just, democratic but responsible society.
Although Germans have finally been able to exalt one of their icons for personal freedom and democracy to the status of president, it remains unclear how their expectations will be satisfied by this legendary figure. Whether he has to take extra strides to transform this ceremonial role into one which keeps watch on every political development, and intervene proactively if necessary, or he remains confined to delivering thoughtful speeches on burning issues like integration, far right extremism, the Euro crisis etc. Most political pundits are also eager to dissect the political relationship between Joachim Gauck and Angela Merkel. Both are East Germans with a theological background. But contrary to general presumption, she was forced by her junior coalition partner, FDP, to endorse his candidature this time against her will.
At present, it is too early to predict whether he will be able to live up to the increasing aspirations of the people. But for sure, his nomination and election by securing cross party affiliation and support, bode well for Germany's political future.