German presidential election damages Merkel

July 1, 2010, midnight

Despite controlling a majority in seats in a special assembly, German Chancellor Angela MERKEL needed three election rounds for her nominee Christian WULFF to win the German Presidency on Thursday. Germany’s President is indirectly elected through a secret parliamentary vote in a joint session of the Federal Assembly and delegates from the states. MERKEL’s coalition controls 644 seats in the special assembly; well over the 623 needed for an absolute majority. Dissidents in MERKEL’s coalition, however, deprived WULFF of a victory in the first two rounds of voting. WULFF was finally elected in a third ballot, which required only a plurality of votes. The difficulty in what analysts say should have been a routine procedure has raised questions over MERKEL’s ability as leader of the Christian Democrats. MERKEL was elected to a second term in September. Her new coalition, which also includes the Free Democrats, was more to her ideological liking than her old alliance with the Social Democrats. Since September, however, her popularity has plummeted over her handling of fiscal crises in Europe and her plans to cut government spending.

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