Under the Political Gun, SPD Head May Reach for Razor | From the Fringe | DW | 03.05.2008
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From the Fringe

Under the Political Gun, SPD Head May Reach for Razor

Social Democratic Party head Kurt Beck said he would shave off the salt-and-pepper beard that has become his trademark for "a million euros to a good cause" at a May Day demonstration this week.

Kurt Beck giving a thumbs-up sign

"It'd be great if I could keep this beard -- and my job"

Every politician, at one time or another, has realized the importance of an image make-over. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder colored his hair. Current Chancellor Angela Merkel first got a new haircut then had a dress cut with a nearly scandalously plunging neckline.

Now, it seems, Social Democratic Party leader and Rhineland Palatinate Premier Kurt Beck may be next in line.

At a labor union rally on this week he said he would cut off his beard for "a million euros to a good cause." But a state spokesman said Saturday, May 3, that Beck's salt-and-pepper beard -- which is admittedly more salt than pepper -- may not be so easily had.

Participants in the Beard World Championships

Many Germans are known to take their beards very seriously

"Both the question and the answer were intended as jokes," the spokesperson in Mainz said.

Currently suffering from the lowest approval ratings he's ever received, Beck is certainly in need of a new image. Just 23 percent of Germans say they are happy with his performance in office.

Should Beck want to avoid the ire of Germany's other politicians looking to make points on the SPD leader's change of heart, he could look to Lower Saxony Premier Christian Wulff, a member of the Christian Democratic Union.

In a bet with a radio talk show host, Wulff said he would say goodbye to his new beard if voter turnout at January's state election didn't reach the same level as 2003.

When interest in choosing the state's representatives turned out to be tepid, Wulff wasted no time in taking the razor to his stubbly facial hair.

As yet there has, however, been no word on groups passing the hat for a clean-shaven Beck.

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