In Germany, Campaigning with Cleavage
Posted by demkid on August 13, 2009
Being German, I figure that it’s just about time to start paying attention to the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for September 27. In case you’re curious about German politics, Chancellor Angela Merkel (the one Dubya touched inappropriately) has been governing in a grand coalition with her party’s main rival, the Social Democratic Party, since the 2005 elections. Then, neither the Social Democrats nor Merkel’s Christian Democrats could form a governing majority, so they had to compromise and divvy up cabinet seats. Now, it looks as if the Christian Democrats and their partners the Free Democrats (enough Democrats for you?) are poised to win a governing majority with just over 50% of the seats in next month’s election.
One of the Christian Democratic candidates for parliament, Vera Lengsfeld, has caused some controversy due to this campaign poster, showing her and Chancellor Merkel:
The caption states, “We have more to offer,” and I would have to go ahead and agree with that statement. According to the AP story on the controversy, the poster has generated some negative comments. “Many have charged that it is in poor taste, others have called it a ‘prostitute poster’ and still others have charged it was sexist.” Personally, I think it’s pretty darn clever, and it definitely spices up the campaign. Germans are known for being fairly dull, and German elections are even duller, so anything that goes against those stereotypes works for me. Perhaps it would be a different story if the picture was used by the opposition to poke fun at Chancellor Merkel and/or Lengsfeld, but it’s being used by Lengsfeld herself. As we all know, any publicity is usually good publicity, and so this tactic seems to be good campaign strategy as well. The poster has attracted thousands of hits to Lengsfeld’s Web page since it was first released. Hey, the center-right coalition is right there at the 50% threshold. Perhaps utilizing their female candidates’ substantial assets will be what pushes them over the top!
As an aside, it’s intriguing to consider what coverage would be like if a similar poster was released in this country during a national election season. It obviously depends on the candidate and party releasing the image…I can imagine that the right wouldn’t shut up about it if a Democratic woman was pictured, but there certainly would be less controversy if a Republican used a photo prominently displaying her cleavage. Then again, if you think about it, I don’t believe that the most well-known U.S. female politicians quite match the cup size of Merkel and Lengsfeld. (Hillary and Miss Wasilla aren’t known for their busts, so the comparison doesn’t really work.)