Debate is raging in Germany over whether a campaign poster using a now infamous photograph of Chancellor Angela Merkel in a deep-cut evening gown is cleverly ironic or downright tacky.
However you see it, the poster is adding some spice to what is shaping up to be an otherwise dull campaign leading up to Sept. 27 German parliamentary elections.
The poster shows a picture of Christian Democrat candidate Vera Lengsfeld, 57, in a low-cut evening gown alongside a well-known 2008 photo of Merkel, the party leader, taken at her appearance at the gala opening of Oslo's opera house.
"We have more to offer," reads the slogan under the revealing photos of the two women's chests — a twist on the Christian Democrats official slogan, "We have the power."
Some say poster is in poor taste
Lengsfeld, a former dissident in what was then East Germany, is vying for a seat in the parliament. She said on her Web page Thursday the poster had attracted more than 31,000 hits.
It has also generated plenty of comments, not all of them positive. Many have charged that it is in poor taste, others have called it a "prostitute poster" and still others have charged it was sexist.
"What is sexist about two women in evening gowns?" Lengsfeld quipped in response.
But many have praised the posters for their quirky irony.
"I have to say one thing," wrote a Peter N. on Thursday. "Angela Merkel is the only chancellor who has become more beautiful during her tenure in office — something that cannot be said about male politicians!"
Merkel declined Thursday to comment on her image on the poster.
"It was Vera Lengsfeld's decision and I think that is enough said," Merkel said in an interview with German radio.
"I would rather discuss the issues on our posters."
At the time the photo from her Oslo gown appeared in newspapers across the globe, she expressed surprise that it attracted so much attention.