German President won’t seek a 2nd term
BERLIN—Germany’s head of state, 76-year-old President Joachim Gauck, said Monday he won’t seek a second term in 2017 due to his age, a move that could cause complications for Chancellor Angela Merkel heading into an election year.
Gauck told reporters at his office in Berlin he would complete his five-year term but didn’t feel he was up to another because “the years between 77 and 82 are different than those that I’m in right now.”
“Until the end of my term, I will seriously and happily fulfill my duties,” he said.
Following the announcement, Merkel said she had been hoping Gauck would stay for a second term but that “I respect the decision of the president.”
A new president will be chosen in February, an awkward time for Merkel who faces national elections later in 2017. With no obvious successor for Gauck, the search for a candidate seems likely to be complicated as factions in Merkel’s coalition government seek their own nominee.
There are already questions over whether her Christian Democratic Union and Bavarian-only sister party Christian Social Union will be able to agree upon a joint candidate, and many see the situation as a test of Merkel’s authority.
Some names being mentioned include Merkel’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, or Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is a member of Merkel’s coalition partner Social Democrats.
Merkel said she would hold broad discussions about a successor to Gauck beyond her CDU-CSU party circle but was not more specific.—AP