CLAIM: U.S., Germany and France have no educational requirement for the office of President, says Keyamo
EVIDENCE: Just like in the US and Germany, the level of education attained is not a yardstick to becoming the President of France. However, most of the presidents in these countries, especially in the last decade have been university graduates!
In response to Dubawa’s fact check on whether a candidate for the office of the President of Nigeria requires a WAEC certificate, Festus Keyamo, spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress [APC] Presidential Campaign Council for the 2019 Presidential election, has again widened the scope of the debate on the educational requirement for becoming the President of a country.
Specifically mentioning Germany, France and the USA, Keyamo wrote on his Twitter wall that presidential hopefuls in these countries do not require to have any educational qualification to be president.
“Even the U.S, Germany & France have no educational requirement for the office of President,” Keyamo tweeted, adding that, “These are HARD FACTS, not my personal view. We need to read the proceedings of the making of these Constitutions to know why they left it that way so our conversations may be more informed.”
HOW ‘HARD’ ARE THESE ‘FACTS’?
COUNTRY #1 – United States of America
Article II, Section 2, Clause 5 of the country’s constitution speaks on the requirement for becoming president of the North American nation.
The Section highlights 3 minimum criteria to be qualified for seeking to land the number one job in the country as:
- be a natural-born U.S. citizen of the United States
- be at least thirty-five (35) years old;
- be a resident in the United States for at least fourteen (14) years.
In spite of this, however, of the 44 individuals that have been presidents of the United States, 32 (73%) graduated from a university. Only 12 (27%) had no degree, two of whom — Abraham Lincoln and Adam Johnson — did not attend high school either. Also, every president since 1953, has had at least a Bachelor’s Degree.
In fact, five of the first seven presidents of the North American country were university graduates. Worthy of note is: that the seven were presidents between April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1837 — a time when university degree was rare and even unnecessary to practice most professions such as law.
But then according to the law of the country, it is correct to say the United States of America has “no educational requirement for the office of president.”
COUNTRY #2 – GERMANY
In Germany, the office of the president is open to all Germans who are entitled to vote in the Bundestag elections and have reached the age of 40.
A search through the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz, GG) accessed online shows that the term “education” appears only 14 times therein — none had anything to do with who becomes president of the Central European nation.
Also, Part V of this German constitution referred to as the Basic Law talks about becoming the Federal President (Bundespräsident) of Germany. Article 54, subsection 1 of this part states that: “The Federal President shall be elected by the Federal Convention without debate. Any German who is entitled to vote in Bundestag elections and has attained the age of forty may be elected.”
Federal Convention in this statement is the largest parliamentary convention in Germany, convened in five years’ interval, all things being equal, to elect a new Federal President. It is usually convened by the president of Bundestag.
Germany runs a parliamentary system of government wherein the Chancellor (currently Angela Merkel) is the nation’s leading political figure and de facto chief executive. The President, on the other hand, plays mainly a ceremonial role; he can, however, give direction on general political and societal debates.
There is no specific level of education required to become the Chancellor of Germany. Article 62 of the German constitution says the Chancellor shall be elected by the Bundestag without debate on the proposal of the President.
The person who receives the votes of a majority of the Members of the Bundestag shall be elected. The person elected shall be appointed by the Federal President.
So, like the United States, educational qualification is not a criterion in becoming the President or Chancellor of Germany. However, all but 2 of the 12 presidents of Germany (83%) since the end of Hitler’s reign, have obtained at least a first degree. The two presidents are Walter Scheel (1974—1979) and Johannes Rau (1999—2004) who one can say do not have a ‘rich educational history’ like the others.
COUNTRY #3 – FRANCE
As for this West European nation, the French constitution states that a candidate for a presidential election is required to:
- be a French citizen;
- have attained the age of 18 years;
- be qualified to vote;
- not be ineligible by reasons of criminal conviction or judicial decision;
- and have a bank account.
Note, the criteria above are same for any other position that requires official elections. This is as set forth in the French Electoral Code (Code électoral).
In addition to this, Law No. 62-1292 of 6 November 1962 on the election of the President by universal suffrage, stipulates that a presidential hopeful must be nominated by at least five hundred (500) qualified elected officials, such as members of Parliament and mayors. There are exactly 45,543 elected officials, including 33,872 mayors in France.
Just like the USA and Germany, the level of education attained is not a yardstick to becoming the President of France.
Historically though, since 1958, which is the dawn of the Fifth Republic in France, eight individuals have emerged French president. All eight (100%) have been graduates of either a university, polytechnic or military college — Charles de Gaulle (1959-1969), is the only one that attended a military college, Ecole militaire de Saint-Cyr, where he obtained an equivalent of a Master’s Degree.
To become president in any of the countries – United States, Germany or France – you do not need any educational requirement, according to the laws of these countries. However, most of the presidents in these countries, especially in the last decade have been university graduates!