Saturday 24 February 2018

Why Angela's ills could make us sick

German presidential elections are usually about as interesting or important as their Irish equivalents, but Wednesday's one will be different; it has the potential to topple Chancellor Angela Merkel's government -- an event with repercussions that would have long-term effects on European, German and Irish politics.

The election was triggered by an obscure spat that has more than a passing resemblance to the one that led to the resignation here of President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh in 1976 but has created an enormous problem for Merkel's floundering government. She has put forward a solid but bland candidate called Christian Wulff.

Wulff would have been a shoo-in if the Social Democrats and Greens hadn't nominated a rival who many of Merkel's followers believe would make a far better president. That man is Joachim Gauck, a 70-year-old Protestant pastor from eastern Germany who opposed the communist regime and has previously been showered with praise by Merkel.

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