German President Steinmeier ready to stand for second term in office

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday he planned to stand for a second term for the largely ceremonial post. 

A former foreign minister and senior adviser to centre-left Social Democrat (SPD) Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the 65-year-old Steinmeier has occupied the president’s office since 2017.

A trained lawyer, Steinmeier’s term is due to expire in 2022, which is after the next election in September, when a new national parliament will to be voted in.

Born in western Germany, Steinmeier also headed up the SPD’s election campaign in 2009 as the party’s chancellor candidate, losing to the conservative Christian Democrats headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Announcing his plans, Steinmeier said he hoped to accompany the country into its post-pandemic future.

He said he wanted to ensure the pandemic does not leave German society divided and to try to build bridges between different groups.

“These are turbulent times,” Steinmeier said. Germany is facing important elections and the risk of political upheaval, he added.

The German president is elected by a special forum of voters comprising members of the government and parliament, as well as leading public figures.

A key feature of Steinmeier’s term has been his call for a strengthening of parliamentary democracy, both in Germany and around the world.

At the same time, he has emphasized the need for Germany to retain close ties with Israel. He has also led condemnation of any acts of anti-Semitism.

More recently, however, his term has been dominated by the global pandemic and its tragic consequences, with Steinmeier regularly addressing the population in video messages.

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