Less content, more Merkel in campaign posters

September 14, 2009

With two weeks to go before Germany holds an election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have unveiled a new set of election posters, depicting Merkel, Merkel, and more Merkel.

Rather than campaigning on the issues highlighted in their election programmes, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) are keeping it simple and hoping to capitalise instead on the popularity of their leader, Germany’s first female chancellor.

(Photo: A new election campaign poster of German Chancellor Merkel is pictured in Berlin, Sept. 14, 2009, Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch)

“The key question is whether Angela Merkel, who has intelligently guided Germany throughout the crisis, should continue to govern,” said Ronald Pofalla, general secretary of the CDU, at a press conference in Berlin.

“With the new posters, we want to make clear to people that they will only get Merkel again as a chancellor if they vote for the CDU.”

The posters show only Merkel, smiling benevolently against a minimalist black background, and feature slogans like: “We vote for the Chancellor” or “We vote for confidence”.

The latest posters are emblematic of the conservatives’ general campaign, which has focused less on hard-hitting issues such as tax cuts and atomic energy than on popular personalities like Merkel and the Economy Minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg.

On previous posters, Guttenberg and other well-known conservative politicians were shown against a blurry background, alongside vague slogans such as “economy with reason”, “strong families” and “good education”.

The posters contrast with those of other parties, which make strong statements on specific policies. A poster for the Social Democrats (SPD), the conservatives’ main challenger, shows an anonymous young woman and reads “atomic energy was yesterday, clean energy is the future, and that is why I am voting SPD”.

¬†With the election looming, the question is whether voters will let the conservatives get away with their refusal to engage on the issues and failure to offer a new vision for the future of Europe’s largest economy.

Analysts said Merkel did worse than her SPD challenger Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a television debate on Sunday — partly because she preferred to echo the vague slogans of her campaign rather than spell out what she plans to do if she is re-elected.

Is she smart to steer clear of controversy and rely on her popularity to win a second term, or could the strategy backfire on Sept. 27 as it did in the TV debate?

(Additional Reporting by Wolfgang Kerler)

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Interesting article!

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