Elections and religious celebrations in Germany

On February 12th, 2017 a special committee – the “Bundesversammlung” – will decide on the new German president. After five years of service the current president, Joachim Gauck, decided to leave office due to his advanced age. In Germany, the president represents the state but has only limited political competences. He makes official state visits, welcomes diplomats, signs treaties with other countries, and can refuse to sign a law if he thinks it does not conform to the constitution. All the last presidents have also tried to give social impulses, for instance in the traditional Christmas address. For the next selection, four candidates have been nominated by political parties. However, as the coalition of the two biggest parties CDU/CSU and SPD has received an absolute majority in the “Bundesversammlung”, it is to be expected that Frank-Walter Steinmeier” – the current foreign minister – will be elected. The committee that elects the president consists of members of parliament and delegates from the regional parliaments.

Another event we are looking forward to is the 19th election of the lower house of the German Parliament. The date for the election is not fixed yet, but it is most likely in September. The lower house of German Parliament is the legislature state institution, meaning it passes laws. Every German, who is at least eighteen years old, is allowed to elect someone. After the election of the German parliament, the head of the state proposes a candidate for the German chancellor. Angela Merkel, the current chancellor, represents the CDU (conservative party), but because of the refugee crisis, her popularity has sunken. Now the AfD (right-wing party) is more popular. So the result of the vote will be interesting – even for other countries.

October 31st, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. His Theses offered criticism toward the powerful Roman Catholic Church and therefore set off a sociopolitical revolution throughout Europe. To celebrate Martin Luther, who has influenced the German church, nation, and society, October 31st will be a national holiday this year.  Many events have been planned that will take place throughout 2017. An Oratorio was written and the German Protestant Church congress is expected to have more visitors than ever before. In addition, a song with lyrics written by Luther himself will be sung with more than 500 choirs. Germans can look forward to a year full of celebrations.

by Shirin H., Marie L. and Annemarie W.