German president resigns amid scandals
German President Christian Wulff resigned from his post earlier today after prosecutors appealed to lift his immunity.
Wulff renounced his position live on TV, in the midst of a home-loan scandal and favours he received prior to being the president in June 2010. He had also received criticism for his allegedly threatening voicemail sent to the country’s popular newspaper, Bild, in a bid to prevent the paper from running the scandalous story last year.
Germany’s President exists more as a moral leader and lacks any strong governing power. Subsequent to the loss of trust from the people it was clear that Wulff had to leave.
He however, continued to assert his innocence, stating: “I have acted without fault and always been honest and upright.”
The resignation comes at an awkward time for Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who personally favoured Wulff for the presidency role. She was meant to fly over to Italy to discuss the euro crisis but following the national situation she stayed behind to address it.
Merkel praised Wulff’s short stint as the president calling him an “energetic champion for creating a modern, open Germany”.
She said: “He gave us important reminders that the strength of our country lies in its diversity. This notion will remain linked with his name. He and his wife, Bettina, have served this country, the Federal Republic of Germany, with dignity.”
She also expressed her desire to hold meetings with the opposing party to elect a new president.
The scandal was initially reported by Bild in mid-December as they ran the story claiming that the president had received private loans from the wife of Egon Geerkens, a wealthy businessman. When asked if he had any dealings with Geerkens he denied the allegation, failing to mention his transaction with his wife.
His downfall was further cemented after it was revealed he left angry message on Bild chief editor Kai Diekmann’s phone, demanding the story not be published. Wulff later claimed he only asked the editor to postpone the publication of the story.
But neither of these stories was behind the request to strip him off his immunity. It was his relationship with David Groenewold, a film producer, which raised the investigator’s eyebrow. They are both under the suspicion of exchanging benefits one of which includes the payment for a luxury hotel stay in 2007.