German President Resigns Effective Immediately
Someone sure isn't drinking the 63 out of 63 trading days Crissy in East Hampton on this sunny morning. Spiegel reports that German president, and former IMF head, Horst Kohler has resigned effective immediately, "a shock announcement that comes as the latest in a series of blows to Chancellor Angela Merkel." The cause for the resignation is the fierce criticism of comments he made about Germany's military mission in Afghanistan. More importantly, this will merely add to the instability in an otherwise already politically ravaged Germany. Got Bund, Bobl and Schatz?
German President Horst Köhler announced his resignation on Monday in response to fierce criticism of comments he made about Germany's military mission in Afghanistan.
"I declare my resignation from the office of president -- with immediate effect," Köhler, with tears in his eyes and speaking in a faltering voice, said in a statement, flanked by his wife Eva-Luise.
The president is the head of state and his duties are largely ceremonial. But the resignation is the latest in a string of setbacks for Chancellor Angela Merkel since her re-election last September. The German federal assembly -- made up of parliamentary MPs and delegates appointed by the country's 16 federal states -- will have to vote for a successor to Köhler within 30 days, according to the federal constitution.
The president had become the target of intense criticism following remarks he made during a surprise visit to soldiers of the Bundeswehr German army in Afghanistan on May 22. In an interview with a German radio reporter who accompanied him on the trip, he seemed to justify his country's military missions abroad with the need to protect economic interests.
"A country of our size, with its focus on exports and thus reliance on foreign trade, must be aware that ... military deployments are necessary in an emergency to protect our interests -- for example when it comes to trade routes, for example when it comes to preventing regional instabilities that could negatively influence our trade, jobs and incomes," Köhler said.
It sounded as though Köhler was justifying wars for the sake of economic interests, in the context of the Afghan mission which is highly controversial in Germany and throughout Europe.
'The Criticism Lacks the Necessary Respect for My Office'
In his statement on Monday, Köhler said: "My comments about foreign missions by the Bundeswehr on May 22 this year met with heavy criticism. I regret that my comments led to misunderstandings in a question so important and difficult for our nation. But the criticism has gone as far as to accuse me of supporting Bundeswehr missions that are not covered by the constitution. This criticism is devoid of any justification. It lacks the necessary respect for my office."
Köhler became president in 2004 and was elected for a second five-year term in 2009. The former head of the International Monetary Fund was the first non-politician to become German head of state. He is a member of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and was nominated for the presidency by the CDU with the backing of their coalition partners, the pro-business Free Democrats.
Köhler won praise during his first term for making a series of strong speeches urging Germany to reform its economy, and his apparent independence from the government prompted mass circulation Bild newspaper to dub him "Super Horst." But he surprised commentators in recent months by appearing to stay on the sidelines in the euro crisis.
Finding a successor will pose a headache for Merkel, whose popularity has slumped in recent months. She has been hit by criticism of her handling of the euro crisis and by the loss of a center-right majority in the upper house following sharp declines for her CDU in a state election in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, on May 9.
A further blow came last week with the resignation of CDU heavyweight Roland Koch, the governor of Hesse, a conservative hardliner whose departure has left a big gap in the right wing of her party.
h/t Cheeky Bastard