Pauli, glamour queen of politics, stumbles
6 April 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Just a few weeks ago, Gabriele Pauli, 49, was the rising star of German politics, emerging from the obscurity of the provinces to wreck the career of one of the nation's principal power-brokers, Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber. It wasn't just that she won her daring one-woman campaign by articulately hammering away at Stoiber on national television till he announced he would resign. Germans were also mesmerized by Pauli's sex appeal. Dressed in short skirts, heavy jewellery and
6 April 2007
Berlin (dpa) - Just a few weeks ago, Gabriele Pauli, 49, was the rising star of German politics, emerging from the obscurity of the provinces to wreck the career of one of the nation's principal power-brokers, Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber.
It wasn't just that she won her daring one-woman campaign by articulately hammering away at Stoiber on national television till he announced he would resign. Germans were also mesmerized by Pauli's sex appeal.
Dressed in short skirts, heavy jewellery and thick eye-liner, the glamourous chestnut-haired conservative is the antithesis to understated Chancellor Angela Merkel, 52, who usually wears sensible trouser suits and at most a few pearls.
Now, a few short weeks later, the vamp persona has been Pauli's undoing, and her own career is in trouble because of magazine photographs that shows her in long black latex gloves associated with kinky sex, or stretching herself on a massage bench.
Pauli, who heads the local authority of Fuerth, a suburban county in Bavaria state, has not denied that she took part in the picture shoot. She even insisted the photos, all of which depict her fully clothed, were aesthetically pleasing.
But she claims she did not consent to publication of the pictures in this month's issue of a glossy style magazine, Park Avenue. She has begun proceedings before the German Press Council against its editor.
The embarrassment may have put paid to Pauli's hopes of a bigger political role in the Christian Social Union (CSU), the centre-right party which has been led to date by Stoiber and which has ruled Catholic Bavaria with a continuous absolute majority for 45 years.
That long primacy means nobody can advance themselves in Bavaria without the help of the CSU party machinery.
Though she has flaunted her glamour and played the maverick, Pauli is in fact a professional, with a doctorate in politics and a gift for communication. She has been a CSU activist since her teens and local authority chief in Fuerth since the age of 32.
The county is on the edge of the provincial city of Nuremberg. She was formerly married to the mayor of another of its suburbs.
She had been bargaining on a move into state-wide politics. Recently she threatened to defect from the CSU, bringing her charisma to a rival conservative group in Bavaria state. The CSU operates in Bavaria only and is independent of Merkel's Christian Democrats.
Pauli astutely judged the right moment to take out Stoiber, who narrowly failed to win Germany's chancellorship in the 2002 general election and often expressed the concerns of centre-right voters nationwide as a counterweight to Merkel.
In a deft touch, she stressed his past achievements and told him it was time to retire gracefully. On January 18, Stoiber agreed to go. But a coterie of men of Stoiber's generation are still blocking Pauli's career path into the state government.
Although Stoiber's retirement this September is no longer in doubt, the 65-year-old politician has lunged to the kill, telling supporters he had been right all along to warn against his afflictor, who is on the CSU state board.
According to the news magazine Der Spiegel, he told associates, "Those who let Pauli have her own way have damaged the party. It had to go this far, with these pictures, before they got it."
The bizarre photos do not blend well with the CSU's message of protecting family values and traditions.
Pauli shot to national prominence late last year when she revealed that Stoiber's closest aide had tried to pry into her sex life.
Last year, the sex issue blew up in Stoiber's face. Now, it may have brought Pauli's stellar career to a premature end.
Subject: German news