Chancellor Angela Merkel`s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) has backed Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier to be the ruling coalition`s candidate for the German presidency, following talks among party leaders on Monday morning, according to Deutsche Welle.
The CDU`s Bavarian sister-party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), also gave its backing for Steinmeier.
”We have come to an agreement, CSU and CDU,” CSU leader Horst Seehofer said. ”That is what`s important,” DW reported.
The conservative Union`s support clears the way for the current foreign minister to go unchallenged in taking over the presidency from Joachim Gauck on February 12. The grand CDU-SPD-CSU coalition enjoys an overwhelming advantage in the electoral assembly that will choose the new president, meaning challenges from a candidate fielded by the Left party or the Greens should be easily overcome.
The German presidency is a largely ceremonial role that is meant to transcend party politics and serve as a moral compass speaking hard truths to the nation. Steinmeier tends to score well in personal approval ratings, and has recently exhibited some of the hard talk expected from a president – for instance being cool towards British Foreign Minister and Brexit figurehead Boris Johnson, and towards newly-elected US President Donald Trump.
Incumbent president Gauck announced earlier this year that he would not seek a second term in office on account of old age. He is currently meeting with leaders in Japan.