In Germany, Calling For A Popular Vote Despite A Troubled Past

If Elisabeth Redl had the chance to vote for Germany’s next president, she would not hesitate to choose Joachim Gauck, 70, the former East German dissident and pastor backed by the opposition. “I find him sympathetic,” said Mrs. Redl, 68. “He has the experience. Gauck has a real history. He is much more representative than Merkel’s candidate,” she said, referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s choice, the 51-year-old Christian Wulff, who is the conservative premier of Lower Saxony. But Mrs. Redl, who was selling wonderfully sweet-smelling strawberries from her small fruit stand on Invalidenstrasse in eastern Berlin this week, will not be able to choose her nation’s next president, who instead will be elected by a special federal assembly on Wednesday. Still, she said she believed it should be up to average Germans to vote. “Why not? We pay the salaries.” Indeed, in interviews with a cross section of people, this election has led many to ask why the choice of the next president, though i