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German president resigns under pressure from strong corruption claims

Friday, February 17th 2012 - 18:36 UTC
Full article 5 comments
Christian Wulff, was a close political associate of Chancellor Merkel who proposed him as president in 2010 (Photo AP) Christian Wulff, was a close political associate of Chancellor Merkel who proposed him as president in 2010 (Photo AP)

Germany's president resigned Friday in a scandal over favors he allegedly received before becoming head of state, and Chancellor Angela Merkel moved quickly to try and head off a domestic political crisis as she grapples with Europe's debt troubles.

Christian Wulff, who was Merkel's candidate for the presidency when elected less than two years ago, quit after two months of allegations he received favors such as a favorable loan and hotel stays from friends when he was governor of Lower Saxony state.

Pressure mounted after prosecutors in the state capital, Hannover, asked Parliament Thursday to lift his immunity so they could start a formal investigation of allegations related to a film producer friend.

Merkel, who called off a trip to Rome on Friday, voiced “deep regret” at his resignation. She moved quickly to limit the fallout and try to ensure a smooth succession, saying she would seek an agreement with the main opposition parties on the next president.

Wulff, 52, was a deputy leader of Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union before becoming president in a messy 2010 election in which the opposition's candidate, well-regarded former East German human rights activist Joachim Gauck, drew votes from Merkel's center-right coalition.

Prosecutors said there was an “initial suspicion” that Wulff improperly accepted or granted benefits in his relationship with David Groenewold, a German film producer whom they also plan to investigate. Those benefits allegedly included Groenewold paying for a luxury hotel stay in 2007.

Wulff said he was stepping down because Germany needs “a president who is supported by the confidence not just of a majority of citizens, but a wide majority.”

“The developments of recent days and months have shown that this confidence, and therefore my ability to act, has been lastingly impaired,” a somber Wulff said in a brief statement at the president's Bellevue palace, with his wife, Bettina, at his side.

The speaker of Parliament's upper house, conservative Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer, will take over the presidential duties on an interim basis, mostly signing legislation into law.

A special parliamentary assembly made up of lower-house lawmakers and representatives of Germany's 16 states must elect a successor within 30 days.

Wulff follows his predecessor, also nominated by Merkel, in resigning early. In mid-2010, Horst Koehler quit abruptly a year into his second five-year term, citing criticism over comments he made about the German military.
 

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • Fido Dido

    No, corruption in Germany? Nahh, that's impossible. That doesn't happen in the EU. Must be fake news.

    Feb 17th, 2012 - 09:09 pm 0
  • ManRod

    Corruption exists everywhere humans live... even in the best ranked countries. There is no black and white in politics, only different scales in grey.
    Truth is, the causes for what the german president resigned, for example in your beloved Argentina would not be worth to mention. He would still be considered a saint over there. The Kirchners were playing on a much higher league (cheap land buys through connections and power , money from their friend chavez in a coffin, etc...)

    By the way, you are again fleeing from the LAN discussion... I should know better you're afraid and hate to face hard facts.

    Feb 18th, 2012 - 10:28 am 0
  • Fido Dido

    “for example in your beloved Argentina would not be worth to mention.”

    My beloved Argentina? Well, to be honest, Argentina is far more excited than Chile. It's just a matter of having a “good” taste. Your hatred against your neighbors is so fake as you r comments here to prove that Chile as a developed nation (Laughable, it isn't and you know that.)

    The LAN and TAM MERGER discussion against an indian like you is finished, long time ago. Merger isn't a takover and Brazilians would never allow that, get over it. I showed you the links, you refuse to read, because it doesn't fit in your bubble, because you do realize that once you do your homework, know the facts, that bubble would burst and would bring you back to your low self esteem feeling. You're pathetic indian with a low self esteem, that's what you are. For the last time, it's a merger and it's good news for both airlines.

    ”The Kirchners were playing on a much higher league (cheap land buys through connections and power , money from their friend chavez in a coffin, etc...)“

    read this mapuche indian, what the heck do I care about the Kirchners. Take your rhetoric against argies, not against me since I'm not born in Argentina.

    ”Corruption exists everywhere humans live... even in the best ranked countries.”

    That I'm aware of that, even in my so called great developed Holland. You did not and do not understand my sarcasm in my first comment.

    Feb 19th, 2012 - 09:04 pm 0
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