Merkel picks Wulff as next president

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The Independent Online

Germany's government has nominated Christian Wulff, the 50-year-old governor of Lower Saxony, for the nation's presidency, days after the previous head resigned.

Chancellor Angela Merkel tapped Christian Wulff as her party's candidate to replace President Horst Koehler, who stepped down on Monday after appearing to link military deployments abroad with the country's economic interests. Mrs Merkel said he would make "a wonderful future president".

"I'm happy that he is willing to go this way with the people during these difficult times, during a big global financial crisis, when the future of Europe is at stake," she said.

Mr Wulff is a deputy leader of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and is widely expected to be elected on 30 June. The opposition Social Democrats and Green Party said they would nominate a candidate on Friday.

The German president has a largely ceremonial job, but traditionally functions as the nation's moral voice.

After the announcement of his nomination, Mr Wulff thanked Mrs Merkel and her coalition partners for their confidence in him and called the presidency "a big challenge that requires great responsibility".

Mr Wulff, who trained as a lawyer, said he was looking forward to his new job and wants to reassure Germans and bring "optimism to the office during these difficult times".