Horst Köhler bigraphy, stories - President of Germany

Horst Köhler : biography

22 February 1943 -

Horst Köhler ( born 22 February 1943) is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union. He was President of Germany from 2004 to 2010. As the candidate of the two Christian Democratic sister parties, the CDU and the CSU, and the liberal FDP, Köhler was elected to his first five-year term by the Federal Assembly on 23 May 2004 and was subsequently inaugurated on 1 July 2004. He was reelected to a second term on 23 May 2009. Just a year later, on 31 May 2010, he resigned from his office in a controversy over his comment on the role of the German Bundeswehr in light of a visit to the troops in Afghanistan.

Köhler is an economist by profession. Prior to his election as President, Köhler had a distinguished career in politics and the civil service and as a banking executive. He was President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 1998 to 2000 and head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2000 to 2004.

Because the office of President is less influential than that of the Chancellor and is mostly concerned with ceremonial matters, Köhler was a highly popular politician during his tenure. He has called for more influence for the President and has suggested the President should be directly elected (as was the case under Germany's Weimar Constitution).

Honours

National honours

  • : Grand Cross Special Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany

Foreign honours

Head of the IMF
  • : Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Star for Services to the Republic of Austria (2003)
President of Germany
  • : Grand Cross with Golden Chain of the Order of Vytautas the Great
  • : Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion (2007), State visit of Germany to the Netherlands, 2007,
  • : Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav
  • : Knight of the Order of the White Eagle (2005)

President of Germany

On 4 March 2004, Köhler resigned his post with the IMF after being nominated by Germany's conservative and liberal opposition parties as their presidential candidate. As these parties controlled a majority of votes in the Bundesversammlung (an electoral college consisting of the membership of the Bundestag and an equal number of delegates appointed by the legislatures of each state), the result of the vote amounted to essentially a foregone conclusion, but was closer than expected. Köhler defeated Gesine Schwan on the first ballot by 604 votes to 580; 20 votes were cast for minor candidates, while one elector was absent because of a heart attack. Köhler succeeded Johannes Rau as President on 1 July 2004, for a five-year term. Germany's presidency is a largely ceremonial office, but is also invested with considerable moral authority. From 2004 until early 2006, Charlottenburg Palace was the seat of the President of Germany, whilst Schloss Bellevue was being renovated.

Upon his election, Köhler, a conservative German patriot, said that "Patriotism and being cosmopolitan are not opposites". "He appeared an enlightened patriot who genuinely loves his country and is not afraid to say so", the newspaper Die Welt wrote. Presenting his visions for Germany, Köhler also said that "Germany should become a land of ideas", and emphasized the importance of globalization, and that Germany would have to compete for its place in the 21st century.

In July 2005, he suspended the Bundestag at Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's request, after the latter had lost a motion of confidence in the Bundestag. This led to early election for the Bundestag in September 2005.

In October 2006, he made a far-reaching decision by vetoing the bill which would transfer Germany's Air Safety Administration Deutsche Flugsicherung into private ownership. The Bundestag passed this legislation but as President, Köhler was authorized not to sign it into law if, in his opinion, it contravenes the constitution. In December 2006 he did not sign the Consumer Information Law (which intended to make information collected by public food safety agencies available to consumers), because the constitution does not allow the federal government to instruct municipal authorities. This can only be done by the German states. There had only been six previous occasions when Germany's president had chosen to reject bills, in most instances less important legislation was involved. His vetoes were the first notable examples in recent German history.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine