Desperate Chancellor enlists his wife's support

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The Independent Online
CHANCELLOR HELMUT Kohl is mobilising every potential voter in the last days of the German general election campaign. Celebrities have been wheeled out, athletes pressured for endorsements, and now even the First Lady is coming to the aid of the party with a media-blitz.

Hannelore Kohl, often mockingly referred to as the Barbie of the Palatinate because of her hairstyle and priggish demeanour, has suddenly been discovered to have views on matters other than cooking or her favourite charity.

Whatever German voters might be thinking about the wisdom of choosing a 68-year-old leader for another term, Mrs Kohl is certain that retirement is not on the cards.

"My husband as a pensioner? Inconceivable," she told Zeit-Magazin in one of a series of interviews that hit the newsstands yesterday. "He has shaped history, brought progress to the country and Europe and for good reasons would like to exercise further influence."

The woman behind Europe's most powerful man has no fear of the family fish tank being thrown out of the Chancellory in the near future. "He is a political long-distance runner," Mrs Kohl explains. "He will win on the final bend."

Hannelore Kohl, a fluent speaker of English and French, is normally happy to play the Hausfrau and takes pains to maintain a low political profile. She is also said to be a very private person. Yet here she is indulging in a bit of gossip about her husband's favourite dishes, and reminiscing about the time the Gorbachevs popped in for dinner.

Could she, wonder the Social Democrats, be the last throw of the re-elect Kohl campaign?