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Merkel's Exposed Derrière Makes Headline News in Britain

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was caught by the British paparazzi with her pants down on a holiday break in Italy. The Germans aren't amused.

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Merkel and husband Joachim Sauer on the island of Ischia during the Easter break

Germany's mass circulation Bild Zeitung took a swipe at Britain's tabloid The Sun for publishing poolside photos of Angela Merkel's buttocks. "Brits Lampoon Our Chancellor", screamed Monday's headline. Touché, considering that Bild's standard fare consists of full frontal nubile females on Page One. So what's wrong with a bit of derrière?

Cheeky headline

Maybe it was the Sun's cheeky headline "I'm Big in the Bumdestag", a play on the German word Bundestag, which is the lower house of parliament. In spite of such irreverence, the accompanying article actually praised Merkel's domestic record."Germany's leader Angela Merkel has pulled up her country's economy--and now she's pulling up her pants…As she began her well-earned break, figures revealed German's fortunes are no longer sagging--with a much improved bottom line… Strikes are down and economic growth is rising. Mrs. Merkel, 51, has plenty to celebrate. Bottoms up!"

Another British tabloid, Daily Sport, published similar photos of Merkel, who was changing into her swimming costume, while on Easter holiday with her publicity shy husband Joachim Sauer, on the Italian island of Ischia. The impertinent caption, read "Does my Hun look this big"?

Respect for privacy

Though a spokesman for the German government was not amused, Merkel does not plan to sue the newspapers, unlike her predecessor Gerhard Schröder, who took legal action against the media for publishing reports that he dyed the color of his hair.

Bildergalerie Gerhard Schröder 2

Former chancellor Gerhard Schröder sued the media over claims that he dyed his hair

Perhaps one reason the German press exercises discretion regarding the private sphere of its politicians has as much to do with fear of litigation, as it does with respecting the privacy of its leaders. As Hendrik Zörner, spokesman for the Federation of German Journalists told the newsmagazine Der Spiegel , "In Germany there's a basic principle that politicians have a right to privacy. Courts tend to rule in favor of privacy, especially in the case of a politician like Angela Merkel who has always been careful to keep her private life shielded from the public eye. Any court would immediately rule in her favor".

Stabs at athletes or film stars however, is fair play. Consider a recent Bild headline "Bundesliga (soccer) star married to two women, and neither one knows about the other".

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