Ex-foreign minister Steinmeier elected new German president

Posted February 13, 2017

Steinmeier will enter office as German president on March 19.

Germany flagThe new head of state will be decided by the convention consisting of 630 lawmakers and an equal number of representatives from Germany's 16 states.

Steinmeier has always been one of Germany's most popular politicians.

The German president has little executive power, but is considered an important moral authority and symbol of the country as its host for visiting dignitaries.

"This country for many in the world has become an anchor of hope", Steinmeier said after his election.

However, she said he was coming to office during hard times.

Before the vote, Steinmeier said he would, if elected, work to counter a heightened sense of insecurity in today's society.

New elected German President Frank Walter Steinmeier is congratulated by German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel after the presidential election at the Bundesversammlung federal assembly Bundestag on Febr

"He is a man with the common touch", she said.

Earlier on Sunday Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his message of greetings to Steinmeier inviting him to visit Russia at any time convenient for him.

Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, had the support of Chancellor Angela Merkel's "grand coalition" of center-right and center-left parties.

Under Ms Merkel, he served twice as foreign minister - from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2013 until this year, with a stint as opposition leader in between. He is known for his efforts trying to mediate the crisis in Ukraine.

The current post-holder, President Joachim Gauck, decided against bidding for a second five-year term due to his age - 77.

Mr Steinmeier's election to the presidency is seen as a boost by the Social Democrats as they seek to unseat Mrs Merkel in September's federal elections.

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