Flipping the bird: Angela Merkel’s election opponent gives German press the finger

Social Democrat leader Peer Steinbrueck has caused controversy ahead of the German general election by making a rude gesture in a newspaper photo

The man trying to unseat Angela Merkel as German chancellor has caused a stir ahead of ballot day by making a rude hand gesture on the cover photo of a newspaper magazine.

Social Democrat Peer Steinbrueck, who was being photographed for national newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung nine days ahead of the German election, raised his finger in response to a derisive comment from a journalist which called the former finance minister incompetent and compared him to Silvio Berlusconi.

The weekly magazine, which has around 1 million readers, poses questions in a format called “Don’t Say Anything Now”, which calls on interviewees to respond to provocative statements with gestures then captured on photo.

The comment that prompted 66-year-old Steinbrueck to raise his middle finger was: “You’re called Mishap Peer, Problem Peer, Peerlusconi - you’ve got no worries about being given nice nicknames?”

Steinbrueck went on to endors the photo on his Twitter account, writing: “You don’t always need words to tell it like it is. As in when you’re constantly being bombarded with old hat instead of the questions that matter.”

The politician, who trails Angela Merkel by more than 10 points in opinion polls, also defended his actions on German news channel N-TV, saying: “I think we should all have a bit of humour in an election campaign. Those who don’t should go into the basement to laugh.”

Acolytes of the incumbent German chancellor Angela Merkel took Steinbrueck’s non-verbal message less lightly and were quick to publically condemn the photograph.

Wolfgang Bosbach, an MP in Mrs Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said: “someone who presents himself like that before the elections doesn't want to become chancellor”.

Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Philipp Rösler - Mrs Merkel's junior coalition partner - commented:“This gesture is unacceptable for a chancellor candidate. Something like that is just not on.”

Steinbrueck has courted controversy more than once already during this year’s election campaign.

He recently drew criticism from his own party, the Social Democrats, with comments that repeatedly focused on his own wallet.

The politician announced that he avoids wine that costs less than €5 (£4.18) while also stating that he believed the chancellor’s salary of €220,000 a year was too low.

Speaking after the comments on his own personal finance, Steinbrueck admitted that his campaign had not gotten off to a good start.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Researcher

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Controller

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Head Porter / Concierge

£16000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks