Former Foreign Affairs Minister and SPD leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been elected German President.
Steinmeier won over the vast majority of delegates at the Special Assembly, having the backing of both Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and his own SPD, receiving 931 of 1,239 possible votes.
Steinmeier will assume the largely ceremonial position of German head of state on March 18th, when incumbent President Joachim Gauck will step down, having declined to stand for a second term.
Steinmeier’s election comes shortly before the parliamentary elections in September, where CUD leader and incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel will go head to head with a resurgent SPD party, under the leadership of former European Parliament President Martin Schulz, as well as the Alternative for Germany party, a staunchly anti-immigrant, anti-European party that has been gaining ground in state parliaments and currently holds around 10% in the polls.
The election of Steinmeier was received with a standing ovation from nearly all members of the assembly. Chancellor Merkel congratulated him, stating: “I have faith in him to lead our country in these difficult times.”