countryaah, the criticism grew at the beginning of the year
against President Christian Wulff after it was discovered
that he had borrowed money privately from a business
acquaintance when he was prime minister in Lower Saxony,
denied that it happened, and then threatened a newspaper
about the published information about it. When the state
prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation, Wulff
resigned. In March, the Federal Assembly - the members of
the Federation Day and as many representatives of the states
- elected Joachim Gauck as new president. Gauck, a former
priest and civil rights fighter without a party name, won
with a satisfactory majority over the Nazi hunter Beate
Klarsfeld, who was the candidate of the Left. Gauck became
Germany's third president in just under two years; Wulff's
representative Horst Köhler also resigned prematurely.
Three state elections were held in the spring. The
Christian Democratic CDU remained the largest in Saarland,
but had to form a "big coalition" with the Social Democratic
SPD since the previous coalition partners backed. In North
Rhine-Westphalia, the SPD strengthened its already dominant
position and formed a new government with the Greens. In
Schleswig-Holstein, the bourgeois coalition fell, and an
SPD-led government was formed with the Greens and the
Danish-Frisian party SSW. In all three elections, the Pirate
Party entered the state parliament. The party was previously
only represented in Berlin.
A regional court in Cologne found that circumcision of
boys for religious reasons violates the child's rights and
causes bodily harm. The rally did not directly imply a ban,
but drew sharp criticism among Muslim and Jewish
representatives who called it religious discrimination.
The crisis in the euro zone took a big place on the
political agenda. When it came to the crunch, Chancellor
Angela Merkel and her CDU received support from most of the
opposition. In June, more than two thirds of the federation
approved the EU financial pact and the permanent new crisis
fund, ESM (European Stability Mechanism). Germany would
become the main financier of the fund. A strong opinion
opposed the ESM, and the Left and other critics requested
that the Constitutional Court review the decision. The
statement came in September: ESM was not found to be in
violation of the Constitution. However, the Constitutional
Court made certain reservations. Germany got contribute up
to a maximum of EUR 190 billion, in addition a new decision
was required on the Bundestag.
There were harsh criticisms from many parts of Europe
against Germany's emphasis on austerity, which many feared
slowed growth and contributed to the euro zone falling into
a new recession during the year. Many slogans were shouted
against Merkel in demonstration trains in the crisis-hit
countries of southern Europe. Germany itself seemed to be
heading towards negative growth at the end of the year.
In September, the SPD appointed Peer Steinbrück as its
chancellor candidate ahead of the 2013 election day.
Steinbrück, who had no challenger within the party, was
finance minister in the large coalition with the CDU, which
the SPD entered into until 2009 but did not want to sit in a
new government. with Merkel as Chancellor.
A fire in a workshop where the disabled worked in
November claimed the lives of 14 people in Titisee-Neustadt
in southwestern Germany.