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Germany finds presidential replacement in former activist Joachim Gauck

February 21, 2012

Germany's federal president Christian Wulff stepped down last week after the details of an early-career scandal emerged. The government has already found a replacement in Joachim Gauck, a Lutheran pastor and former East German dissident. The 72-year-old received the support of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was hesitant at first, since she initially opposed his potential candidacy for the role when others pressed for him in the 2010 elections, according to The New York Times.

"The central theme of Joachim Gauck's public activity is the idea of freedom in responsibility, and exactly that is what personally connects me to Joachim Gauck, despite our many differences," Chancellor Merkel told the Times.

Gauck grew up in East Germany and continued to fight for human rights long after the Berlin Wall fell, according to the Belfast Telegraph. When he ran for the presidency in 2010, Merkel was concentrating all of her efforts on Wulff's campaign. Now, she has given her approval for Gauck's assumption of the ceremonial role.

Those who are out of the country for work or school can make calls to Germany to discuss the details of the recent scandal and Gauck's acceptance of his new job.

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