Anti-Communist pastor set to become German president

By REUTERS
March 18, 2012 02:51

 
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BERLIN - Joachim Gauck is poised to become Germany's third president in just two years on Sunday after winning support from the country's main political parties, but the feisty theologian may prove an awkward partner for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel reluctantly accepted Gauck for the mainly ceremonial post after her coalition ally joined opposition parties last month in backing him to replace Christian Wulff, who resigned in a scandal over financial favours.

Unlike Wulff, a former lawmaker from Merkel's ruling centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), the 72-year-old Gauck has no party affiliation. But he is known for speaking his mind - with the eloquence of a seasoned preacher - on controversial issues.

Eighty percent of Germans trust Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor and human rights activist, according to an opinion poll by Infratest published on Saturday.

Yet two thirds said they thought he would be an "uncomfortable" president for the country's political parties.

In Germany, the president is chosen not by voters but by a special federal assembly comprising all 620 members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament and an equal number of delegates from the country's 16 regions.

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