Current Event 3/24/12

Joachim Gauck, a civil rights activist and former pastor, was inaugurated as Germany's president on March 23, 2012. Gauck had already begun work as president after his election, but was officially sworn in before the Bundestag and Bundesrat houses of Parliament on Friday. His inauguration speech encouraged freedom, justice and participation. He remarked that although Germany's democracy was an excellent trait of the nation, faith in the system appears to be declining. Decreasing voter turnout was a special consideration, he remarked. Gauck also vowed to continue work against far-right extremists, which was a concern of his predecessor Christian Wulff. Of extremism, Gauck said, "To those who despise democracy we say: Your hate is our incentive."
Gauck is the first East German president of the country, signifying unity and progression of the nation. Like Chancellor Angela Merkel, he is an East German Protestant. Although famous for speaking his mind, the president has no official party affiliation. Concerned with democracy and civil rights, the president is also concerned with Germany's relationship with Poland, and will pay Warsaw a visit soon. The president, at age 72, is the oldest president Germany has had. He and his partner, the journalist Daniela Schadt, are installed at the presidential residence of Bellevue Palace. Although the president is technically head of the state, the post has mainly ceremonial duties.
The election of an activist from East Germany shows progressiveness and openness that is encouraging in the field of German politics. Describing himself as a "conservative from the liberal left," Gauck bridges the gap between liberal and conservative and will hopefully be able to moderate disagreements between the two factions. As a strong advocate of democracy, Gauck will be a stabilizing force in the German parliament, and hopefully throughout the nation as well. His election is promising for Germany's continuing stability, democracy, and progressiveness.


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