Christian Wulff, candidate of Germany's centre-right coalition to become president, narrowly won a cliffhanger election tonight despite the attempt of a group of rebels to turn it into a referendum on Angela Merkel's authority.
His rival Joachim Gauck, a former East German dissident and Protestant pastor who had the support of the majority of the public, secured 494 votes. He fought back tears as the result was announced and he received a standing ovation from the opposition who had backed him.
The Linke (left) party withdrew its candidate, Luc Jochimsen, from the third round. The move might have paved the way for their members to vote for Gauck, but instead they abstained.
The leadership of the Linke had consistently expressed their disapproval of Gauck, who is the nemesis of a party that has its roots in communism, because of his strident anti-communist views as well as his support for Germany's involvement in Afghanistan. On the other hand, some had signalled they were prepared to support Gauck if it prevented Wulff's election, which would have weakened Merkel's beleaguered government further, and might even have brought it down.
Konnolly, K. (2010) Christian Wulff elected German president. [Online] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/30/christian-wulff-elected-german-president [01/07/2010]