Retaining Up Appearances: Merkel’s Hair And Scholz’s Pate – OpEd

It was a shallow affair.  Reputed to have exceptionally poor hairdo, the determine who grew to become one in every of Europe’s, and certainly one of many globe’s most lasting and influential politicians, impressed memes aplenty for what she sported on her bonce.

The teases, the parodying, the satire, started to chew.  Stylists had been sought in an try and dispose of the soup bowl severity of her hair, all a part of the rebrand in operating in opposition to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2005.  There was Udo Walz, whose shoppers included Chancellor Schröder himself, and such celeb terrorists corresponding to Ulrike Meinhof.  

Former world hairdressing champion, Martina Acht additionally supplied her snipping and touch-up providers, a lot to the consternation of an envious Walz, who insisted on being the primary one to have “began slowly altering her model”.  The change had evidently been so sluggish as to allow opponents to swoop in.  “Simply earlier than George Bush visited Germany in February [2005], Mrs Merkel got here to me for recommendation,” said Acht in September that very same yr.  “I wished her to look her greatest for ‘Georgie Boy’, so I did her hair, and gave her a little bit of encouragement within the appears division.”

Being out of the job of German Chancellor for 2 years, Merkel’s urge for food for hairstyling and make-up has not abated.  The payments for fairly actually maintaining appearances proceed to quantity.  A freedom of knowledge request submitted by the Tagesspiegel has discovered that the Chancellery continues to pay Merkel’s hair and make-up prices concerning private and non-private engagements.  The quantity since 2021 has come to 57,000 euros.

Merkel additionally appears to have parted methods with a make-up artist she had retained for some years, preferring the providers of a self-employed hair and make-up artist.  And simply so as to add sauce to the combination, to not point out price, the person can be a designer.

Based on the Chancellery’s response to the paper, “The belief of prices is linked to the efficiency of continuous official duties – no matter whether or not they’re public or private.”  

That’s not an assumption worn flippantly within the workplace.  When Merkel billed the federal government for each her stylist and private adviser throughout a go to to the Netherlands final yr, some staff within the Chancellery grumbled.  Concern was additionally expressed about lodging prices for Merkel’s cosmetics assistant for a visit to Geneva.

For members of the present authorities, the prices for maintaining appearances has been spectacular.  A parliamentary investigation earlier this yr discovered that 1.5 million euros had been spent on funds to photographers, hairdressers and make-up artists for the primary full yr of the Scholz administration.  This constituted, roughly talking, an 80% enhance from 2021.  In all of this, the true star within the roll name of make-up bills turned out to be Overseas Minister Annalena Baerbock.  In 2022, 137,000 euros was spent on a make-up artist that retains the minister firm for her appointments in Germany and abroad.

The present chancellor, Olaf Scholz, can be proving stellar in his personal proper: 21,808 euros was spent on hair and make-up in 2023, and 38,910 euros the earlier yr.  These totals can be questionable at the most effective of occasions, however Scholz’s case is even odder.  How do you justify beneficiant remunerations to hairstylists for somebody with little to no hair to work with?  Is the pate significantly delicate, requiring tender care?  German taxpayers have to be pondering the mysteries. 

The difficulty with beneficiant hairstyling and pictures prices appears to be endemic, spreading by the nation to different workplaces and states.  The workplace of Bavaria’s head of state, Markus Söder, parted with 180,000 euros on freelance photographers in 2022, simply so as to add to the 36,000 euros yearly paid to a everlasting photographer.

The post-career billings of politicians reluctant to depart the treasury unmolested has been a really pungent and contentious concern.  How far ought to such public service be rewarded, if in any respect?  Ought to it prolong to some perennial financial defraying of bills nicely past the life, not to mention usefulness, of that service?  In Australia, the treasured Life Gold Cross, launched in 1918, used to provide former members of parliament intensive journey advantages throughout the nation with out worry of personal disbursement for return journeys.  Initially, there have been no limits.  Then the journeys had been capped.  Ultimately, the measures had been amended in 2017 to solely cowl former Prime Ministers.  Dialogue about make-up artists in tow, nevertheless, didn’t happen.    

President Reiner Holznagel, President of The Taxpayers’ Affiliation, argues that utilizing the general public purse to cowl an ex-politician’s bills corresponding to make-up artists and hairstylists is greatest averted or “decreased to the naked minimal”.  When unsure, these ought to be paid from non-public sources.  It’s a sentiment most comprehensible however, in need of any laborious coverage reform, more likely to be rebuffed.  The definition of politics by the witty poet and US Civil Struggle veteran Ambrose Bierce involves thoughts: “The conduct of public affairs for personal benefit.”