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Mon 19 Mar 2012 10:37 AM

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Gauck elected new president of Germany

Pastor and human rights activist confirmed as president

Gauck elected new president of Germany
Germans resoundingly elected Joachim Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor and human rights activist from communist East Germany, as president of Europe's most powerful country on Sunday, creating a potential political headache for Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Getty Images)
Gauck elected new president of Germany
In the largely ceremonial office of president, Gauck poses no threat to Merkel's domination of national politics, but his moral authority, independence of mind and lack of party affiliation could make him an awkward partner for her government as it struggles to overcome Europe's economic crisis. (Getty Images)
Gauck elected new president of Germany
Gauck, 72, won 991 votes in the federal assembly comprising members of parliament and regional delegates that elects German heads of state. His main rival, veteran anti-Nazi campaigner Beate Klarsfeld, got 126 votes. (Getty Images)
Gauck elected new president of Germany
Germans hope Gauck, a prominent player in the peaceful protests that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, can restore dignity to the presidency, a post tarnished by financial scandals that toppled his predecessor Christian Wulff.(Getty Images)
Gauck elected new president of Germany
"I take up this post with the endless gratitude of a person who, after a long trek through the political desert of the 20th century, has finally and unexpectedly found his home again and was able to witness in the last 20 years the joy of shaping a democratic society," he said after taking the oath of office. (Getty Images)
Gauck elected new president of Germany
His victory was never in doubt after all the main political parties, including Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrats, threw their weight behind his candidacy. (Getty Images)
Gauck elected new president of Germany
Merkel played down suggestions that the feisty theologian would use his office as a pulpit to harangue Germany's politicians or that they might clash over policy issues. (Getty Images)
Gauck elected new president of Germany
"He may well disapprove of something, so might I, but we are all adults... I think there will be good collaboration," she told reporters after giving Gauck a large bouquet of flowers. (Getty Images)
Gauck elected new president of Germany
Merkel can ill afford disputes with the president as she tries to build cross-party support for tighter fiscal rules to tackle the euro zone's two-year sovereign debt crisis that has forced Germany to assume greater leadership in Europe. (Getty Images)
Gauck elected new president of Germany
Merkel only reluctantly endorsed Gauck's candidacy after her coalition ally, the Free Democrats, joined opposition parties last month in backing him to replace the disgraced Wulff. (Getty Images)