Merkel rival gives finger, gets grief

AFP-JIJI

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief election rival sparked a storm of derision and online ridicule Thursday by allowing himself to be photographed making the vulgar middle-finger gesture while sneering into the lens.

The black-and-white studio portrait of Peer Steinbrueck in suit and tie appeared on the cover of the weekly magazine supplement of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily’s Friday edition.

The image of the gaffe-prone Social Democratic candidate was taken for a photo-essay format called “Don’t Say Anything Now” in which subjects are asked to respond nonverbally to questions.

The gesture by the self-styled “straight-talk” politician came in response to a question over his campaign missteps, including causing offense in Italy by calling former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi a “clown.”