Germany's Steinmeier on course for 2nd term as president

FILE - German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier poses after the recording of the traditional presidential Christmas message at Bellevue Palace in Berlin in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021. Germany's environmentalist Greens have come out in favor of a second term for President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, leaving the head of state well-placed for another five years in office. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File) (Michael Sohn, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

BERLIN – Germany's environmentalist Greens came out Tuesday in favor of a second term for President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, leaving the head of state well-placed to win another five years in office.

The Greens were the last of the three parties in Chancellor Olaf Scholz's new government to endorse Steinmeier, who was a longtime member of Scholz's center-left Social Democrats.

The president will be elected on Feb. 13 by a special assembly made up of the members of parliament's lower house and representatives of Germany's 16 states. The Social Democrats, the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats — the third party in Scholz's coalition — are expected to have a majority in the assembly.

Steinmeier announced that he would seek a second term last May, before the parliamentary election that brought Scholz's coalition to power and at a time when his chances of reelection looked far from certain. The president, who turns 66 on Wednesday, said he wanted to help heal divisions widened by the coronavirus pandemic.

Before becoming president, Steinmeier served two stints as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister and previously was chief of staff to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Germany’s president has little executive power but is considered an important moral authority. After a messy parliamentary election result in 2017, Steinmeier helped prod politicians to form a new coalition government rather than holding out for a new vote.

Some figures in Merkel's center-right Union bloc, which is now in opposition, have called for their party to nominate a woman for the presidency. Germany hasn't yet had a female head of state.

A statement from the Greens' leadership described Steinmeier as “a very good and highly regarded president,” news agency dpa reported. It said the party's leaders are “convinced that he will continue to give our society support and orientation on the difficult way out of the pandemic.”