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Merkel backs German opposition’s choice for president

Chancellor Angela Merkel bowed to political pressure on Sunday and agreed to support former East German rights activist Joachim Gauck for the presidency, averting a fight with opposition parties that might have distracted her from tackling the euro zone crisis.

Ms. Merkel confirmed her support for Mr. Gauck at a press conference in the Chancellery in Berlin two days after Christian Wulff, her hand-picked choice for president in 2010, resigned in a scandal involving financial favours.

The announcement paves the way for Mr. Gauck, a 72-year old Protestant pastor who was a leading figure in the peaceful protest movement that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, to be confirmed in the ceremonial post by Germany’s Federal Assembly in the coming weeks.

Mr. Gauck was one of a number of pastors who supported the protests that ultimately brought down the East German regime, setting the stage for the reunification of Germany in 1990.
When Mr. Gauck was 11, his father was arrested by communist authorities and sent to the Gulag in Siberia.

For more: Merkel backs German opposition’s choice for president - The Globe and Mail

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