How Germany’s election got weird: from Merkel’s soup to nudism and beer

Boring? What's boring? The punters may have already placed firm bets on Chancellor Angela Merkel to win her fourth term on Sunday, but Germany's general election is still turning up surprises.

How Germany's election got weird: from Merkel's soup to nudism and beer
File photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel trying soup. Photo: DPA.

Cook like the chancellor 

Eight years after she revealed that she can whip up a “really good potato soup”, Merkel has finally disclosed her recipe.

“I always pound the potatoes with a potato masher, not a blender,” Europe's most powerful woman told Bunte magazine in August.

“Then there'll always be a few lumps left,” said Merkel, known affectionately to Germans as “Mutti” (Mummy).

Playing favourites 

She has had heated exchanges with political opponents, fielded thousands of questions from journalists, but never has Merkel revealed so much about herself as she did in a unique press conference on Sunday.

Through 57 questions fired off by children, many aged under 12, we learnt that Merkel's favourite animals are “hedgehogs, elephants and hares”, her favourite food is “spaghetti bolognese”, and her favourite hobby is “growing potatoes”.

She prefers to dress in a “nice cardigan” and “very comfortable shoes” and would have liked to be an “astronaut flying over the Earth”.

Diet like a poster boy 

The leader of the liberal Free Democratic Party, Christian Lindner, whose moody black-and-white campaign posters have been compared to Calvin Klein advertisements (or mocked as promotions for dating websites), has revealed how he fought teenage flab.

“At 14, I weighed almost 100 kilos, but was at least 10 centimetres smaller than today,” the 38-year-old told newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

After a strict regimen of jogging in forests and a radical crispbread diet, Lindner said he shed 30 kilos.

“I'm now 1.86 metres and weigh 80 kilos,” said Lindner, whose campaign posters have also been turned into memes by social media users with slogans like “Every 11 seconds, a liberal falls in love with himself”.

Even Social Democratic Party candidate Martin Schulz, Merkel's main rival, joined in poking fun at Lindner's campaign posters, saying “he is always looking down in such a funny way on the posters”.

“Almost like he is ashamed. That can be somewhat understandable, when one is being photographed in his undershirt.”

Naked ambition 

Far-left Linke candidate Gregor Gysi has bemoaned the demise of nudism in Germany and is campaigning for its revival, he told Playboy magazine in August.

“I'll check with our local politicians to see if they are offering nudism in their localities,” he told the Bild daily, complaining that naturists were increasingly under threat.

But when asked if he would shed his clothes to sunbathe by a Berlin lake, Gysi said: “There are limits to everything.”

“If at all, nudism would only take place for me at home.”

The nudist movement known in German as “FKK” – short for Frei-Koerper-Kultur or free body culture – was especially popular in former communist East Germany, where people celebrated it as a rare expression of personal liberty in an otherwise highly oppressive society.

Beaches along the northern coast of Germany still offer “FKK areas”.

Beer price brakes

Want a cap on beer prices or feel the urge to blame Russia for everything – from broken mobile phones to train delays and unpaid rent?

Then satirical outfit Die Partei (The Party) might be for you, after it made these promises, along with dismantling taxes, in its manifesto for its third attempt to win a seat in the Bundestag.

The party started in 2004 and founder Martin Sonneborn won a seat in the European Parliament in 2014 with absurdist slogans like “No to Europe, Yes to Europe”.

Its candidate for chancellor, comedian Serdar Somuncu, has promised to rebuild the Berlin Wall with funds from east Germans, as well as orchestrate a fake coup in order to consolidate power.

With jibes against US President Donald Trump and Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Die Partei lets voters decide whether to take it seriously.

Dance, dance, dance

Upstart Berlin party The Urban are seeking to draw votes through the love of hip-hop.

“It's not about screaming 'Yo!' or drawing graffiti on the party programme,” said the party, calling itself a “global movement of emancipation” that seeks social justice and equality.

READ ALSO: Challenging what it means to be German: meet the hip hop party running for election