Merkel election rival takes heat for photo of middle-finger gesture
BERLIN (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's election rival took more fire on Friday for a magazine cover showing him making a vulgar middle-finger gesture, with many questioning his fitness to lead the nation.
While some defended the photo as a human and ironic gesture, most commentators questioned the political judgement of Mr Peer Steinbrueck, 66, in allowing himself to be shown flipping the bird and then authorising the picture's publication.
The striking black-and-white portrait of the Social Democrat was published in a newspaper's weekly magazine but had already gone viral online, sparking a storm of social media ridicule ahead of the Sept 22 vote.
The most damning commentary, predictably, came from the ruling conservatives, who said it showed Mr Steinbrueck - whose personal approval ratings lag behind Dr Merkel by 20 to 30 points - had already thrown in the towel.