Below the cut, there are plenty of links about the German presidential candidate Joachim Gauck, Mostly critical voices, because frankly, if you want pro-Gauck opinions, any mainstream news outlet will provide those.
I should perhaps say that at least part of the reason why I think Gauck is the wrong man for the job is purely visceral dislike. Something about Gauck has rubbed me the wrong way since he was head of the Stasi file archive back in the 1990s. I simply find the man unsympathetic. But then I find plenty of politicians unsympathetic and still think that they do a good job (secretary of finance Wolfgang Schäuble would be one example). However, there are good reasons why Gauck actually is the wrong person for the job. The links below give some of them:
The Frankfurter Rundschau, one of the major German daily newspapers, reports about various groups and individuals who oppose Gauck’s candidacy. This includes several members of the Green Party which is one of the four parties nominating Gauck.
At the leftwing newspaper tageszeitung a.k.a. taz, columnist Deniz Yürcel offers his opinion on Joachim Gauck and calls him a “smelly boot”. What I find particularly interesting about this column is what Yürcel writes about Gauck’s East German civil rights hero past, namely that Gauck only joined the East German opposition shortly before the fall of the Wall, which matches my memory that I didn’t hear his name back in the fall of 1989. I’d like to find a more reliable source about this, though.
The Junge Welt, a Communist newspaper which is actually one of the few surviving East German papers, is naturally opposed to Gauck’s candidacy. The photo accompanying the article is interesting, since it shows Joachim Gauck standing between investment banker Carsten Maschmeyer and his wife, actress Veronica Ferres at some public event. Maschmeyer was one of the wealthy friends whose favours got former president Christian Wulff in trouble. Not that this means a whole lot, Maschmeyer and Ferres attend plenty of glamour events, so it’s probably difficult not to be photographed with them.
Nachdenkseiten, one of the most respected German political blogs, explains how the right-wing media conglomerate Axel Springer AG pushed Gauck’s candidacy.
Clemens Heni, a political scientist and anti-Semitism scholar, worries about Gauck’s equating Communist East Germany with the Third Reich and thus relativizing the holocaust. Interesting about this post is that – at least based on a brief glimpse at his blog – Clemens Heni is not leftwing.
The Metronaut blog offers good reasons against Gauck.
The blog Exportabel thinks that Gauck’s nomination was a very bad decision.
monopoli, a political blog written by an East German, sums up the case against Gauck’s candidacy. Of particular interest given Gauck’s reputation as an East German civil rights hero and Stasi victim turned Stasi hunter is the article by Peter Michael Diestel, last secretary of the interior of the GDR, excerpted at the end.
And just because it’s so important, here is the article again in its entirety. It’s old and was originally published in 2000, but extremely interesting given the current situation.
The MDR, a TV and radio network serving parts of former East Germany ran a poll about Joachim Gauck on its website and took it down, when the result was not as expected. Here is a screenshot (not mine). Of course, these online polls are in no way representative and there is the possibility that Gauck opponents encouraged people to vote. Nonetheless, the result is interesting and far different from the official polls which claim that approx. 69 percent of Germans are in favour of Gauck.
Radio Utopie has a collection of problematic statements made by Joachim Gauck in the past.
What annoys me most about this and many other German presidential elections – apart from the fact that the population is not allowed to elect its own head of state – is the lack of other candidates. I hated this even as a young girl, when Richard von Weizäcker (a very good president in retrospect) was nominated in 1984 and memorial coins were already being minted before Weizäcker had even been elected, even though there was another candidate, Luise Rinser, a writer nominated by the Green Party (most likely, she would have been a good choice as well). I saw those memorial coins advertised somewhere and got angry and asked, “Why? The guy hasn’t even been elected yet. That woman might win after all.” – “She has no chance, dear”, was the answer I got. This made me angry then and it still annoys me today. Because an election where there is only one candidate is not exactly democratic.
The Left Party may yet nominate its own candidate, like they did with actor Peter Sodann in 2009 (and Sodann would likely have made a fine president). And the Pirate Party, which has a whopping two delegates in the parliamentary assembly electing the president, is also looking for a candidate of its own. Suggestions include comedian Georg Schramm, Hans Jürgen Papier, former president of the German supreme court, and Götz Werner, owner of a drugstore chain and in favour of granting a basic income to all citizens.