After being elected for the position of President last week, Joachim Gauck was officially sworn in as President this morning before the two chambers of parliament, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat in Berlin. His election saw historically high results with 991 of the 1,228 votes going to him. While these votes are not carried out by regular citizens of Germany, a recent survey conducted by the German tv station ARD showed that 80% of Germans are happy with the choice and see him as being a trustworthy leader. A third of those polled however responded that they were not too familiar with what new concepts he would bring to the table as head of state.
In his inaugural speech this morning, Gauck made an appeal for more European unity, especially in times of crisis. He dreams of seeing a Europe that is closely united and lives in peace and prosperity.
Europe was the promised land for my generation.
For my grandchildren, Europe has long been part of their day-to-day reality, with freedom across borders and the opportunities and concerns of an open society. This reality is an achievement, not only for my grandchildren.
A stronger Europe wasn’t his only push during his speech… Gauck made it a point that Germany would no longer put up with the extremist violence from Nazi militants and stated that their hatred would “only spur us on.”
Some may ask what the difference is between Joachim Gauck’s role as President and Angela Merkel’s elected position as Germany’s Chancellor. Because Germany is a Republic and operates a parliamentary system of government, the chancellor is the head of the government and has the executive power whereas the president is more of a figurehead with ceremonial power similar to that of a king or queen in a constitutional monarchy. If you look at England as an example, the Queen would be the “president” and prime minister would be “chancellor.”
Photo (c) Deutscher Bundestag / Lichtblick/Achim Melde