Germany: Chancellor sells, but not at home
13 August 2012
“Our face of the crisis”, headlines Welt am Sonntag in an article on the German “covergirl” who has dominated the international media in recent years: Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the latest example of this phenomenon, the cover of the August 10 edition of British magazine The Economist “was already a sensation before it hit newsstands”, remarks the Berlin newspaper. The same is true of the other front pages devoted to Merkel by Newsweek, the New Statesman (Terminator) and Time: or by those that represented her as a dominatrix in Poland and Spain, or as a Nazi in Greece. And while The Economist was taking yet another potshot at the Chancellor, Germany’s biggest magazine, Der Spiegel, came close to breaking sales records with a front cover devoted to the 50th anniversary of the death of the writer Hermann Hesse. “Merkel sells. – But not in Germany”, points out Welt am Sonntag –
Incredible but true: in the course of the euro crisis, not one German magazine has devoted its front cover to the chancellor who is at the eye of the storm. The historians of the future who sift through the archives to study the unification of Europe will be amazed to find that during the crisis the people of Germany bought newspapers about burglars and dog handlers.
In explaining this phenomenon, it is not enough to say that politics on the front cover does not sell in Germany. It is important to take into account the relationship between Germans and their chancellor as evidenced by the “warm and sympathetic” tone of the sole front page image of the chancellor published by Süddeutsche Zeitung magazine –
The report presents her as a sort of distant relative with an interesting job – and not as a chancellor who has to contend with a difficult period for the continent. And this suits Merkel, who believes that she can better do her job when she is not subject to too much scrutiny from the German people. [...] She is right. Germans believe that she is the right person to take on the crisis. But they do not want to look closely to verify that assumption.