The Federal Convention is a special body in Germany’s political system, whichgathers only for the election of the president. It is made up of all the members of theBundestag - the German parliament - and an equal number of representativeschosen by Germany's 16 states. The assembly has 1,244 members: all 622 members of parliament and 622 delegates from the states.The number of members each state is allowed to send to the convention is based onthat state's population. State representatives are not always politicians: sometimesthey are celebrities or other public figures.
There are several reasons why a consensus candidate is called for. One of myinformants in Germany tells me that the Chancellor does not have the votes in theFederal Convention to get her own candidate elected.Second, the Wulff resignation marks the second time a CDU selected president hasleft office early in the last two years. Pres. Horst Koehler resigned in 2010 after adisagreement he had regarding military policy. Chancellor Merkel certainly doesn’twant to be a three time loser.As Marc Young in
, “Handpicked by Merkel as a supposedly safe set of hands following the unexpected resignation of his temperamental predecessor Horst Köhler in 2010, Wulff failed to inspire from the start.His nomination made plenty of people queasy, because there are good reasonssomeone shouldn’t go directly from active politics into the highest office of the land.Wulff had been state premier of Lower Saxony, not the usual elder statesmanchosen to be German president.But Merkel ignored such concerns and rejected the opposition’s efforts to find a joint candidate for the presidency, such as Joachim Gauck, a former pastor and respected East German civil rights activist.Her stubborn insistence led to the humiliation of Wulff only being elected after threerounds of voting – an omen, perhaps, of the troubled presidency that was to come.Now the chancellor is left looking for her third head of state in just two years. In anembarrassing climb down, she acknowledged on Friday she would seek a broad parliamentary consensus for the next president. After personally choosing Köhler – who fled from office – and Wulff – who waschased from it – she call ill afford another presidential crisis of her own making.
Third, according to
Spiegel On-Line, “The timing of Wulff's resignation and theexpected tough debate over a possible successor comes at a bad time for Merkel,who is currently battling to save the euro and even had to cancel a trip to Italy tomeet with Prime Minister Mario Monti on Friday in order to address the domestic crisis.