Merkel will weather storm of German president’s resignation

February 24, 2012 - 16:51

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German President Christian Wulff resigned recently after a series of scandals that rattled the country for three months. 
The resignation came after Germany’s Prosecutor’s Office declared that it was considering taking measures to strip Wulff of his immunity in order to investigate him on corruption accusations.
Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of president is largely ceremonial. The president is elected by the Federal Convention, a body established solely for that purpose.
Although Wulff’s decision will harm German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s reputation and have other have consequences for her, it will have no impact on the coalition government and Merkel may reap some benefits from the situation. 
Merkel and Wulff are both members of the conservative Christian Democratic Union. Wulff was once seen as a potential rival of Merkel, and many Germans saw his appointment in 2010 as a ploy by the chancellor to push him out of the political arena. Thus, Merkel should be pleased with the fall of one of her most important rivals in the party leadership. 
Merkel forced through Wulff’s appointment in 2010 over a strong opposition candidate that many Germans favored. He is the second president to step down in less than two years. His predecessor, former International Monetary Fund chief Horst Koehler, resigned unexpectedly after coming under fire for comments he made about the German mission in Afghanistan, and Merkel did not make any efforts to save him.
Choosing a successor could prove divisive at this sensitive juncture for the European Union, which is in the middle of the euro zone debt crisis. However, Merkel is riding a wave of popularity in Germany for her handling of the crisis, and it seems that Wulff’s resignation will not have a significant impact on her political future.  
Shamseddin Khareghani is a political analyst who formerly served as Iran’s ambassador to Germany.