Germany’s parliamentary assembly has elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Social Democrat and former Foreign Minister as the country’s president on Sunday.
Steinmeier, who previously served as vice chancellor under current Chancellor Angela Merkel, is now the nation’s 12th president since World War II.
Voting took place in a secret ballot among the 1,260-member Federal Convention, comprising lawmakers and leading community figures.
The 61-year-old was elected by the vast majority of the assembly, receiving 931 out of 1,253 votes.
“This country for many in the world has become an anchor of hope,” Steinmeier said after his election. “We give others courage, not because everything is good, but because we have shown that it can be better,” he said.
The position of president in Germany is largely ceremonial, because the chancellor is the official head of government and has a higher profile on the world stage.
Mr. Steinmeier will replace Joachim Gauck, a 77-year-old former East German pastor and human rights activist, who steps down on March 18 – as head of state at the end of his five-year term.
Ms. Merkel said Mr. Steinmeier would be an excellent president.
“He is a man with the common touch,” she said.
However, she said he was coming to office during difficult times.
European Council President Donald Tusk sent his congratulations to Steinmeier.
“Your appointment comes at a critical moment for Europe. The many external and internal challenges we are facing could hardly be more severe. In times like these, European unity is more important than ever, and I look forward to Germany’s continued contribution to the European project,” he said.