Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s former foreign minister and an outspoken critic of U.S. President Donald Trump, was elected Germany’s 12th postwar president Sunday by a parliamentary assembly.
Steinmeier has been dubbed Germany’s “anti-Trump” by the media after repeated comments during the U.S. election cycle. He called Trump a “hate preacher” and predicted years of challenging relations between Germany and the U.S. following the election. He has further lashed out against populists who “make politics with fear.”
“The result is not what most German would have wished,” Steinmeier said Nov. 9, the day after Trump’s election victory. “I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. Nothing will be easier, many things will become more difficult.”
The presidency is regarded as the highest office in Germany but the role is purely ceremonial. Steinmeier won 931 out of 1,260 votes from lawmakers and prominent German figures.
Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, has long been one of Germany’s most popular politicians and he served eight years as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister. He made a run for the chancellory in 2009 but lost out to Merkel in the federal election.
Steinmeier said he wants Germany to be an “anchor of hope” during increasingly tumultuous times.
“We’re living in tumultuous times. Many in our country feel insecure,” he said during his acceptance speech.
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