TIME Germany

Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier Set to Become Next President

Maurizio Gambarini—AFP/Getty Images German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is tipped to become the next German President.

The popular foreign minister has previously been critical of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump

Germany’s foreign minister, who once referred to Donald Trump as a “hate preacher,” was tapped Monday to become his country’s next president.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier would take over the largely ceremonial role as head of state from Joachim Gauck, whose five-year term ends in February.

German news agency dpa reported Monday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union bloc would back Steinmeier’s nomination for the post. Together with the votes of Steinmeier’s own center-left Social Democratic Party, the 60-year-old political veteran would likely have enough support to win a vote among the 1,260 delegates who elect Germany’s next president on Feb. 12. Social Democratic Party leader Sigmar Gabriel told reporters Monday that Steinmeier had earned widespread respect and the necessary trust required to fill the post.

Steinmeier is regularly ranked among Germany’s most popular politicians. While normally studiously diplomatic, Steinmeier strongly criticized U.S. President-elect Donald Trump during the American election campaign. Asked in August about the rise of right-wing populism in Germany and elsewhere, Steinmeier slammed those who “make politics with fear.” He cited the nationalist Alternative for Germany party, promoters of Britain’s exit from the European Union, and “the hate preachers, like Donald Trump at the moment in the United States.”

Following Trump’s election, Steinmeier said the Republican’s victory meant “nothing is going to get easier. A lot will get harder.” He said Germany would seek dialogue with the Trump administration, but warned that American foreign policy would likely become “less predictable.”

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, declined to comment Monday on a possible replacement for Germany’s top diplomat.


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