The Merkel model on the float is portrayed as a buxom vixen instead of the chancellor's usual wallflower persona. But even normally sassy parade goers have criticised the float, saying it goes to far. The festival committee has decided it will not let Frau Merkel travel through the city as she was presented during the float's unveiling - with just two small German eagles covering her impressive breasts.
“We’ll paint a bikini top on, a little Brazilian one,” procession head Christoph Kuckelkorn told daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger on Wednesday. “We don’t want to use such a cheap gag.”
Cartoonist Jacques Tilly, who is responsible for the Rosenmontag float designs in rival town Düsseldorf, does not understand the decision. "That’s against the rules of the game," he told the paper. "Carnival was invented precisely for these depictions. Once a year we are allowed to run riot without being punished.”
Before the committee opted for a more modest Merkel, Tilly had actually praised their bravery. "Finally they’ve dared to do something," he said. "The Chancellor’s flesh in the procession? That’s what people want to see."
While Düsseldorf might allow a bare-bottomed stateswoman, Cologne is apparently more puritanical about its politicians.
“A naked Chancellor? We don’t want to see that. That’s why she’s getting a bikini. It’s also because of the sense of humour in Cologne, and out of respect for the office” of chancellor, Karneval committee spokesperson Sigrid Krebs said.
Karneval committee president Markus Ritterbach saw things similarly. "I was certainly shocked that the chancellor had nothing on at the unveiling," he told the paper. "We get more and more cheeky with our creations, but we don’t want so many naked women in the procession."
A float featuring Adam and Eve leaving paradise is enough skin for Cologne residents this Karneval season, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger reported. But even their naughty bits will be covered with fig leaves, the paper said.
The original naked Merkel float designer, Ariane Paffenholz, was initially not informed of the binkini change. "The idea of the naked chancellor was mine, but I only offered it as a suggestion,” she told the paper. "Carnival chief Kuckelkorn is of course welcome to change it as he sees fit. He has to justify himself to everybody."