By Thomas Peter

The Bundestag in Berlin, session 188. The plenum below the grand glass dome of the Reichstag building is buzzing with the voices of lawmakers who are to vote today on the ratification of Europe’s permanent bailout mechanism.

News photographers pluck the occasional picture from among the crowd with a timid click of their cameras. But everyone is waiting for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A summit of EU leaders in Brussels has finished only hours earlier. A summit that Ms Merkel left as the defeated, after Spain and Italy cornered her into budging to their demand to use EU rescue fund money for the direct recapitalisation of banks, something that thus far had been a red rag for Germany.

How would Ms Merkel sell the outcome of the summit to the house? Curiosity is running high on the two tightly packed media balconies overlooking the floor. TV cameras and batteries of photographers’ super-tele lenses are trained at the spot where Angela Merkel will appear any minute.

Then she emerges from the back corridor, dressed in a brightly colored blazer, her gait determined, heading straight for the company of a party fellow. A cacophony of rattling camera shutters accompanies her every step. Their hysteric sound of high-tech metal slapping against metal flutters from the press balcony across the entire plenum and cannot escape the attention of the person down below who is being captured in this moment. But Angela Merkel is too much of a professional to allow her composure to slip.