|Germany: Décolleté Democracy?
||[Aug. 11th, 2009|02:20 pm]
Finally German politics seems to escape its recent state of static boredom – thanks to a rather physical election campaign by CDU-candidate Vera Lengsfeld. The former MP of Thuringia has distributed a total of 750 controversial posters across her new constituency of Berlin Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain. These billboards show both Lengsfeld and Chancellor Angela Merkel wearing evening dresses with plunging necklines - a clear reference to Merkel’s infamous appearance at Oslo last year. Ambiguously, the caption underneath reads: “We have more to offer. CDU.” Shocker.
As expected, Lengsfeld’s website was immediately flooded with a whole bunch of accusations, ranging from sexism to … well, sexism. Whereas user “Daniel” angrily questions the candidate’s state of mind, “Jens” puts his thoughts rather bluntly: “Ah. Tits.”
Not that the poster caused universal furore, though: many comments also admire the bold move of the candidate, who freely admits that neither the Chancellor nor other party officials were consulted prior to the campaign’s launch. They argue that the two women “have more to offer than just sexism.”
Lengsfeld herself thinks that allegations of sexism on her website merely display the prejudices of their authors. She also offers a rather original explanation for not having consulted her party earlier: “It was supposed to be a surprise.”
Indeed, the experienced politician, who served as an MP from 1990 to 2005, is in desperate need of such a surprise: the constituency Berlin-Kreuzberg is known for its left-wing, cosmopolitan scene. Not exactly the target of the conservative CDU, who only managed to get 12.4% of the total vote in 2005 – with Green candidate Christian Ströbele winning the seat in a landslide victory (43.3%).
Thus, it seems unlikely that Lengsfeld’s campaign will be regarded as anything more than cheap electioneering. Indeed, many political commentators readily dismissed it as a populist move in a rather hopeless campaign, lacking both content and substance. Michael Scharkow, lecturer at the Berlin University of the Arts, thinks for example that the CDU should focus on a more sincere approach: “I don’t think voters will appreciate this type of self-mockery.”
Whether sexist populism or merely clever tactics, a view of the excessive reporting of the German press can reassure all those Britons tired of reading about Victoria Beckham’s American Idol appearance or Kate Moss smoking joints: Germany’s silly season is similarly in full swing.