Germany presidential election: Why is there another election in Germany?

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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been re-elected on Sunday for a second straight term. The election comes not long after Germany formed its new coalition Government late last year following an election that saw no party win an outright majority.

Why is there another election?

The President was elected this week – but it wasn’t by the German electorate.

Instead, the president was elected by a special assembly of 736 people made up of the members of parliament’s lower house and representatives of Germany’s 16 states.

The Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Free Democrats — the three parties in recently elected Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition — supported the reelection of the current president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Germany’s biggest opposition party — the Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union — also supported Mr Steinmeier’s reelection.

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What does the German president do?

Compared with leaders of other countries, the German president has few opportunities to influence day-to-day politics in his or her country.

The president represents Germany in matters of international law, and at official gatherings.

The role of the president is largely ceremonial, and they are not directly elected by the electorate.

The role is largely ceremonial due to the far-reaching powers presidents had before World War 2.

Prior to Nazi Germany, German presidents could annul basic laws and implement emergency legislation – something that helped the rise of Adolf Hitler.

Now, presidents in Germany have terms of five years, and can only be re-elected once.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier is a member of the SDP party, of which Mr Scholz is the leader.

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He served twice as foreign minister in Angela Merkel’s cabinet, which was also a coalition Government in later years.

He announced he would seek a second term last May, before the parliamentary election.

Mr Steinmeier is a popular figure throughout Germany, having cast himself as a conscientious politician, who is against the rise of the far-right and supporting health expert messaging throughout the pandemic.

Other than Mr Steinmeier, three other candidates ran for president, though none of them had a realistic chance of winning.

Gerhard Trabert, a physician, ran for the Left Party.

Stefanie Gebauer was nominated by the Free Voters party.

Max Otte was the candidate for the Alternative for Germany party, despite his membership of the CDU.

As a result, his party called for him to leave or face possible expulsion.

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