New German president & old German history
In the very first blog of my two years around Europe I had commented on the German presidential election of the 4th July 2010 - I had expressed my disappointment with the elected Wulff, but I did not foresee how bad he would be (only good thing, one reasonable speech for the 20 years of German reunification, when he dared saying that today also Islam belongs to Germany). And even more my disappointment for die Linke's refusal to support the opponent Gauck.
Today, with a 20 month delay, Germany celebrates the election of Gauck, and the 72-year old looks like fresh air in the rather stiff German politics of today. Some complain that he did not actually fight so much for democracy before 1989 - however, as the Catholic Polish weekly Tygodnik Powszechny (which was the only free medium under communism, and still is one of the best critical voices in Central Eastern Europe) reminded a couple of weeks ago, he was one of the very few in the DDR to try to engage with Solidarnosc in the 1980s. I know that many of my friends in Berlin (especially East) will not feel represented by him - but I expect that he will be magnanimous, as many of the best anticommunist activists have been once in power. Die Linke, again, did not vote for him, but they did not hesistate long before standing up and congratulating him.
But indeed this election confirms how important history remains in Germany. A Stasi hunter is elected with 991 votes, and look at who the other two candidates were: a Nazi hunter (the Sionist Beate Klarsfeld supported by die Linke, with 126 votes) and, quite horribly, Olaf Rose, candidate of the neo-nazi NPD party which is proving so difficult to outlaw, with 3 votes thanks to their representation in some regional parliaments. Expect more history politics in Germany and Eastern Europe soon.