Susanne Knoll, a 49-year-old mother of three who has appeared in talk shows and a music video as the German chancellor, is running for Lübeck’s city legislature – but not for Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). Knoll is standing for office for the CDU’s traditional political rivals, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Knoll told German news agency DPA she realized she is no longer satisfied just playing a politician.
“I wanted to be active in politics myself. Although it was clear to me that if I were to join a party it would have to be the SPD,” she told DPA.
She admitted she has encountered some skepticism but said former SPD Secretary General Klaus-Uwe Benneter recruited her himself as a local candidate.
“There have been questions like, ‘What’s her deal? Is this all a performance?’ But I think by now I have convinced most of the skeptics,” Knoll said.
Knoll was hired by a management company as a Merkel double in 2003, two years before the politician became Germany’s first female chancellor. She joined the SPD in 2005, the same year Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) formed a so-called grand coalition with the SPD at the federal level.
When the CDU nominated Merkel as its top candidate and likely choice as chancellor, Knoll appeared widely in talk shows and with German pop singer Udo Lindenberg in a music video for his song “Angie.”
Knoll told DPA that people still tell her she looks like Merkel, though the comments are not as common as they once were.
With place number seven on the SPD’s candidate list and her own legislative district where she could win a direct mandate, Knoll has high hopes to take her own seat in office after the May 25 election. Like many other local candidates, she said her priorities are education, curbing government spending and increasing access to day care.
“I am quite ambitious, and this doesn’t have to end with the city legislature,” she said.