Sputnik news: Germany picks president, anxious Merkel ‘sidelines’ potential threat Steinmeier

Politics and International Relations 16 February 2017


Patricia Hogwood, reader in European Politics at the University of Westminster, used her academic expertise in German politics to discuss the potential reasons for Steinmeier’s landslide victory in the 12 February German presidential elections with Sputnik news.

Former German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected as the new German president on the 12 February. With 931 supporting votes out of the 1,260 members of the Federal Convention, Steinmeier was undeniably the favourite candidate to become president. Sputnik news stated that Steinmeier’s victory was supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their allies, the Christian Social Union, surprisingly early on, along with junior coalition member SPD, which showed the implied support of over 900 national and state lawmakers.

The article also highlighted Steinmeier’s described vision of the presidential duties as “mutual respect, strengthening democracy, taking a broader view, tolerance and solidarity.” He also voiced his opposition towards right wing populism views and denounced Trump’s ideas.

The article contended that although the German presidents’ power is commonly seen as restricted to legislative decisions, Chancellor Angela Merkel could now see Steinmeier as a considerable political rival.

While discussing this, Dr Hogwood told Sputnik news that Steinmeier’s victory could be the result of potential political machinations on the part of Chancellor Merkel, who would rather keep Steinmeier as a president than facing him in any leading positions in next September elections.

Hogwood commented: "It wouldn't surprise me if Chancellor Merkel decided she'd rather not face Mr. Steinmeier in any leading position in the September elections, for the Bundestag. If she hadn't sidelined him to the Presidential channel, he may have been the SPD's leading candidate, and she might've found that rather difficult given how popular and respected he is. She's done this before, with Christian Wulff, a young candidate seen as a rival to her in the CDU. She'd rather see rivals in this role than a political role that could unseat her." 

In concluding the article Dr Hogwood shared thoughts suggesting that Steinmeier’s charisma and popularity could still help him to make indirect, but important day-to-day decisions in German politics, despite his restricted power: “Perhaps Steinmeier won't be such an invisible President — perhaps he will make a mark on German people.”

Read the full article on Sputnik news website

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

For the media

For the media

Here we hope you find everything you will need to research, write and publish your story or blog post.