Merkel's cleavage spices up German election campaign

12th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

The famous photo of Merkel's cleavage, taken at the opening of the Oslo Opera House in April 2008, prompted headlines such as "Merkel's Weapons of Mass Destruction" from British tabloid the Daily Mail and "Deutschland boober alles" from media gossip website Gawker.

Berlin -- With seven weeks to go until German elections, billboards of Chancellor Angela Merkel sporting a very revealing low-cut dress have pepped up a campaign that has so far struggled to grab public attention.

The election placards have been put up by Vera Lengsfeld, from Merkel's conservative CDU party, who is running in a long-shot race in a left-wing district of Berlin for a parliamentary seat in the September 27 poll.

They show photographs of each woman in an evening dress showing plenty of cleavage with the slogan: "We have more to offer" emblazoned over the chancellor's breasts.

Lengsfeld, a former East German dissident, said she had not cleared the picture beforehand with Merkel, 55, telling rolling news channel N24: "The chancellor could never have allowed me to do this, otherwise everyone would have wanted to do it."

The 57-year-old candidate has hung 750 posters in her district and local media have reported a few stolen as souvenirs.

Lengsfeld said over 17,000 people had visited her election blog since she shot into the public eye.

"If only a tenth of them also look at the content of my policies, I will have reached many more people than I could have done with classic street canvassing."

She will have her work cut out, however, to transform the limelight into success at the ballot box against a popular Green party veteran.

Meanwhile the women's arm of the CDU chided Lengsfeld for an outdated "sex sells" campaign: "We don't need to do things like this anymore," its head, Maria Boehmer, told a news conference.

A CDU spokesman was tight-lipped, saying only that the party's central office was "not notified".

On Lengsfeld's blog, opinion was sharply divided but the campaign had certainly aroused debate, with over 300 comments.

"Witty, cheeky and funny," said "Alex."

But "Lena" said the placards were "embarrassing and shameful."

"How deeply sad that a woman has to attract attention with her breasts because she is incapable of clever words and thoughts," she said.

Daniel Baltar asked: "Have you gone completely mad?"

Lengsfeld herself said she did not understand the fuss.

"I find it amazing how little humour some people have shown over this placard. People always complain election posters are boring and then as soon as someone does something different, people get annoyed."

The famous photo of Merkel's cleavage, taken at the opening of the Oslo Opera House in April 2008, prompted headlines such as "Merkel's Weapons of Mass Destruction" from British tabloid the Daily Mail and "Deutschland boober alles" from media gossip website Gawker.

It was not the first time images of Merkel -- named by Forbes magazine as the most powerful woman on the planet three years in a row -- made waves.

In 2006, another British tabloid, the Sun, snapped her changing into a bathing suit while on holiday in Italy under the headline "Big in the Bum-destag", a reference to the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament.

This April, the unusual sight of a giant mocked-up photo of Merkel in a matching purple bra and knicker set greeted punters on Berlin's famous Ku'damm shopping street as part of an underwear advertising campaign.

AFP/Expatica

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