No candidate wins on first ballot in race for German presidency

22:04, June 30, 2010      

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Germany's presidential election headed for a second round of voting Wednesday after no candidate won an absolute majority on the first ballot.

Christian Wulff, nominated by Chancellor Angela Merkel's troubled ruling center-right coalition, had been widely expected to win the election because the government enjoyed a majority in the Federal Assembly with 644 seats.

Wulff, however, only got 600 of the 623 votes needed for an absolute majority. Former East German human rights activist Joachim Gauck captured 499 votes while little-known opposition candidate Luc Jochimsen collected 126.

If no candidate secures 623 votes in the second round Wednesday, the election goes to a third round in which a simple majority suffices.

The 1,244 delgates - half federal lawmakers, the other half nominated by state parliaments - were voting for the largely ceremonial role by secret ballot in Berlin's Reichstag parliament building. The process could take up to three rounds of voting but a final result was expected later Wednesday.

Former President Horst Koehler resigned on May 31 over his controversial remarks about the Afghanistan war, which he said was partly being fought for economic reasons.



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