German SPD leader generally incognito

13th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Beck is still amazed that reporters don't recognize him, he says.

Berlin -- As national chairman of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), Kurt Beck is the natural candidate to challenge Christian Democrat (CDU) Chancellor Angela Merkel at the next elections, but many journalists still fail to recognize him.

Speaking to the weekly Die Zeit, Beck reveals that on one occasion after conducting an interview, a young woman reporter asked him: "But who are you actually?"

On another, he was doorstepped by a camera team, with the interviewer taxing him on previous statements he had made.

"After a couple of minutes, I said to him: Please turn it off. Could it be the case that you have confused me with Volker Beck of the Greens?"

The interview had attributed to the SPD leader remarks made by the parliamentary whip for the environmental party with the same surname.

In the interview, Beck expressed disappointment at the increasingly hectic, excitable and unprofessional world of German journalism.

But the incidents could also be seen as reflecting his relatively low profile.

The state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate -- he does not have a seat in the national parliament - Beck languishes in the polls far behind his Christian Democrat counterpart Merkel.

And speculation that the SPD could choose Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to challenge the popular Merkel was fuelled Wednesday by a radio report that a deal to this effect had already been struck by SPD leaders.

Beck and his deputy Steinmeier immediately denied the report by the regional public broadcaster NDR.

Beck has said the final decision on the candidate for chancellor will be taken only at the end of the year, ahead of elections which must be held by September next year.


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