The poster in the western town of Kaarst reads “The only reason to vote black,” which is a reference to the party colour of the rival conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). Green officials have said the poster was meant to highlight the party's policy of supporting same-sex couples ahead of state elections on August 30, but other parties called the poster sexist and racist.
“The decision over individual posters was done on a local level and not at a state level,” North Rhine-Westphalian Green party heads Daniela Schneckenburger and Arndt Klocke said on Thursday evening. “In this respect we as a national party were not involved in the poster's production.”
The two leaders rejected claims that the poster was intentionally racist or sexist, but said they had taken the matter seriously.
Other campaign posters recently made headlines this week in Berlin, when one politician caused a stir with chesty imagery of herself – and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
On some 750 posters tacked all over the Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain parliamentary district, Bundestag candidate Vera Lengsfeld was pictured next to fellow conservative Christian Democrat Merkel – both sporting a daring décolleté.
The photograph of Merkel is already well-known. It was taken when she wore an uncharacteristically revealing ball gown to the inauguration of Norway's national opera house in April 2008. Paired with a photo Lengsfeld in a similarly low-cut number, the poster reads, Wir haben mehr zu bieten, or “We have more to offer.”
Lengsfeld on Tuesday defended the poster against widespread criticism it was both tasteless and sexist. But she admitted she had not asked Merkel for permission to use the revealing photo.