(RNS) While Americans watched Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fighting to the finish in a noisy and polarized campaign, Germans were quietly debating their own presidential election in far different terms.
Among the names put forward as candidates are two leading Protestant bishops — one of them a woman — and even a respected Muslim writer.
That’s not the only way the presidential election in Berlin next February will be different from the American contest.
German presidents are figureheads without real power, nominated by the parties in Parliament and indirectly elected by its members along with representatives of the state assemblies. They spend a lot of time meeting visiting dignitaries, addressing conferences and cutting ribbons.
But one job qualification that stands out is the idea that a president should be a moral leader willing and able to speak about the state of the nation’s soul. Pundits like to call this the “preacher in chief” aspect of the job.