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article imageLutheran Pastor elected President of Germany

By Layne Weiss     Mar 19, 2012 in Politics
Joachim Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor and civil rights activist, has been elected Germany's 11th post-war president, The New York Times reports.
The 72 year old has no party affiliation, but is well respected for his ability to address controversial issues, both effectively and eloquently, BBC News reports.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Gauck won 991 out of 1,228 votes cast by a special assembly of lawmakers and representatives.
Gauck beat his closest rival, Beate Klarsfeld, in a landslide. Klarsfeld received only 126 of the votes.
The new president replaces Christian Wulff, who resigned last month after being accused of accepting favors from business executives, The New York Times reports. Wulff had replaced Horst Kohler in 2010 after his abrupt resignation of the presidency following outcry over comments he made about expanding Germany's military role.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, supported Gauck, but experts say this was due only to her hand being forced by the fact that the Free Democrats backed him as well, and she needs their support.
Gauck and Merkel were both raised in the former East Germany, and Merkel's father was a Lutheran pastor. Gauck is a former pastor, and the son of a pastor as well.
"What a beautiful Sunday," Gauck said to a chorus of cheers after winning the presidency.
Gauck's critics worry that he is too focused on democracy to deal with other pressing issues facing Germany, but he has pledged to focus on all concerns and issues. He heads into office with open ears, an open heart, and an open mind.
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