In the early 2000s, when she was not yet chief executive but headed the CDU (center-right) Christian Democrat party, Merkel didn’t know where to put her hands, photographer Claudia Kempf explained a few years later. About the origin of the gesture, ingenious today.
A 2009 photographer told the Rheinische Post, “She left them hanging next to her, which made her look helpless. Or she would put them together and then I would say to her, ‘That’s how you look like a pastor’s daughter.'”
In 2013, the chancellor gave her own version of how the gesture came to be, which is a personal discovery, according to her.
“There was always a question of where to put my arm, that’s how I got the idea,” she said a few months before that year’s legislative elections.
According to her, this “diamond” signifies “perhaps a certain love of symmetry,” which is reminiscent of Merkel’s style of government, characterized by pragmatism, and the search for consensus, but it is also criticized for the absence of political vision at certain times.
In 2013, Merkel, who will step down as chancellor this year after 16 years at the helm of the German government, aspired to be re-elected for a third time.
Thus, the CDU based its campaign in these elections on the personality of the chancellor.
A giant 20 x 70 meter poster inspired by this famous gesture has been put up at Berlin Central Station.
Billboard showing Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s hands, in her traditional gesture, during her 2013 re-election campaign – Photo: Johannes Ezell/AFP
On it was a picture of Lady Merkel making diamonds, accompanied by two thousand pictures of hands and the slogan: “The future of Germany is in good hands.”
This campaign infuriated her opponents due to its personal nature, and they even portrayed Merkel on social networks as Mao.
His opponents from the Social Democratic Party denounced the “brutal cult of personality and emptiness of content”. “If this is political, we fall too often,” he criticized the Greens.
However, the leader, known as “Muti” (Mother) by the Germans, victoriously won this election and since then her gesture, according to the British newspaper The Guardian, has become “one of the most reputable manual positions in the world”.
German Prime Minister Angela Merkel performs the traditional hand gesture next to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki after a joint press conference in Warsaw on September 11 – Photo: Janick Skarczynski/AFP
The “diamond” even has its own icon and Wikipedia page, and at the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum in Berlin, the chancellor was photographed making the gesture.
imitated by Schultz, the Social Democrat
“I think that the diamond was initially adopted unconsciously, then the public discovered its distinctive effect and consciously started using it as a brand,” Jochen Horrich, a communications specialist at the University of Munich, told AFP.
According to this university professor, who is the author of an article In His Hands, the ‘pleasant’ conveys calm and, unlike a clenched fist or an outstretched hand, it does not emit emotional signals, ‘allowing it to produce an average sense of ‘closeness and distance’.
There have been many interpretations of this gesture, from it representing a “bridge” or “protective roof” to conspiracies that saw him as evidence that he was part of the Illuminati, a supposed secret organization that would hold the reins of global power.
The “diamond” symbol has become so powerful that other German political figures, including opponents of the conservative leader, are trying to imitate it.
Such is the case of Social Democratic candidate Olaf Scholz, who in July appeared on the front page of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, presenting himself as the chancellor’s true successor, rather than conservative Armin Laschet, the unpopular political heir to Merkel.
This takeover of Merkel’s style, which angered the chancellor herself, appears to have paid off, with the Social Democrats leading in opinion polls.
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