German President

Steinmeier, the Anti-Trump

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s next president, was not Chancellor Angela Merkel’s choice. The former foreign minister may politicize his new office, traditionally a largely ceremonial role.

  • Facts


    • Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s former foreign minister, was elected as president on Sunday, Germany’s highest office, by the Federal Assembly, a joint meeting of the German lower and upper house.
    • Mr. Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, plans to use his popularity to fight for Europe and against populism.
    • Mr. Steinmeier risks conflicts in his new role, which requires political restraint.
  • Audio


  • Pdf
Außenminister Steinmeier in Polen
Frank-Walter Steinmeier flew 400,000 kilometers a year as foreign minister, crisscrossing the globe. Source: DPA

On the sidelines of a Dutch-German forum in Berlin, students are lining up to take pictures of Mr. Steinmeier. Even the former Bundestag president, Rita Süssmuth, is full of praise, thanking Mr. Steinmeier for his candidacy. The white-haired Mr. Steinmeier embodies like no other the “spirit of keeping doors open,” according to the Christian Democrat politician.

Mr. Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, was elected as Germany’s 12th post-war president on Sunday, despite the fact that Chancellor Angela Merkel did not want him in the country’s highest, albeit mostly ceremonial office.

Mr. Steinmeier has already achieved what many before him have needed years serving as president to do: become Germany’s most popular politician. He wants to use his popularity to achieve two main goals: “To fight and to argue for this Europe,” Mr. Steinmeier said in a surprisingly emotional and unscripted speech to the German and Dutch young people. “We need this Europe more urgently than ever,” but it is stuck in its “deepest crisis ever, which might threaten its existence,” Mr. Steinmeier said.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.

Similar articles that might interest you

Handelsblatt Interview

Ischinger: Europe Needs a Strong, United Military

One of Europe’s leading diplomats and chair of the Munich Security Conference calls for Germany to lead the push for a Europe-wide defense strategy.

Dangerous Words

Krugman Warns on Threat to American Democracy

The Nobel Prize winning U.S. economist said in an interview that President Donald Trump risks sparking a constitutional crisis in the United States and rupturing the global trade system.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Merkel Fails to Get Her President

Angela Merkel is normally a wily political operator, but she has been outmaneuvered by her junior coalition partners the Social Democrats, whose candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be the new federal president.

Stenmeier steals the show action press

Military Action

Steinmeier Marches Germany onto World Stage

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the center-left Social Democratic Party to support a stronger German role in world affairs in future. The SPD's party congress backed the deployment of German forces to help fight IS in Syria. But it ruled out sending ground troops.

Aussenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier SPD im Interview in Berlin am 02.03.2015 . Deutsche Politik Bundespolitik Portrait Portraet Porträt - . [ Es gelten meine AGB - Veroeffentlichung nur gegen Honorar (zzgl. 7% MWSt.) und Namensnennung copyright by: Marc-Steffen Unger Tel: 01715353875 Kto.Nr.: 26432245 BLZ: 37050198 S t a d t s p a r k a s s e K o e l n ] [#0,26,121#]

Foreign policy

Steinmeier: It’s Time to Talk

In an exclusive interview with Handelsblatt, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier talks about why rising global tensions and fears of terrorism indicate it may be time to end the stand off with Russia, and insists it is too soon to write off peace talks in Syria.

Foreign Visit

Steinmeier: Turkey’s Relations With E.U. in Sorry State

Germany’s relations with Turkey are at a low, and foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s recent visit, during which he attacked the country’s human rights record, is unlikely to improve relations between the two countries.