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Merkel softens up and talks baking, makeup and clothes

August 26, 2009

Between running an election campaign and trying to save European carmaker Opel at the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was baking a currant cake and writing out a shopping list for her husband.

Merkel has sought in recent months to soften her business-like image by opening up about her life at home, hoping to reach out to more voters ahead of the federal election on September 27.

(Photo: Merkel attends the inauguration of the Oslo Opera House, April 13, 2008, Reuters/Bjorn Sigurdson)

As Germany’s first woman chancellor, Merkel used an interview with feminist magazine Emma this week to illustrate her down-to-earth approach to juggling work and family.

According to the Allensbach Institute, a leading pollster, Merkel did not score better with women than she did with men in the last federal election in 2005.

But her gender may be playing a role this year — some 41 percent of women plan to vote for her conservatives next month compared to 34 percent of men.

Merkel, ranked by Forbes as the world’s most powerful woman for a fourth straight year, said she really enjoyed cooking and did so whenever she got the chance, sharing other domestic chores with her husband when their housekeeper was on holiday.

“My husband doesn’t cook, mostly he shops and on Friday I write him a list so he can do the shopping for the weekend,” she said.

Merkel, 55, also divulged details about her look, which was the topic of a hot debate during the federal election campaign in 2005, when she traded a low-maintenance page-boy cut for something more stylish.

“At home I prefer wearing jeans and a jumper or a cardigan,” she said. “As Chancellor I have a make-up artist. But I still have a very pragmatic style: the hairdo must last for 12 or more hours, and I can’t be powdering my nose every two hours.”

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