North German grandeur: The Prime Minister of Lower Saxony and SPD politician Stephan Weil at the horse market in Hameln
Image: Patrick Slesiona
War, skyrocketing prices, fear of a loss of prosperity: How does political rhetoric work in times of crisis? Prime Minister Stephan Weil shows it before the elections in Lower Saxony when he appears in Hamelin.
Ibeen in Hamelin and saw a man catcher. At the horse market, diagonally below the carillon and the Pied Piper figures that go out three times a day, he sat on a stool and won people over. How often has he been described in portraits as brittle and dry, as a chamberlain without aura, as an obedient comrade to the bosses in the VW state of Lower Saxony, as someone who seems closed and average and has no charisma. A “normal beer-drinking lawyer” is how Stephan Weil describes himself. Most recently in a “Zeit” interview he even referred to one of the highest sympathy formulas of the football-loving Germans: “I am the normal one.”
On television, on talk shows or in short statements in front of party headquarters, Weil often appears conventional to meaningless. With his nasal tone and his slightly teacher-like expression, he seems to many to be the epitome of what makes the SPD so unattractive: a party soldier, an apparatchik. But on this late afternoon in the provinces under the carillon you experience this Weil in a completely different way. There is a relaxed liveliness, almost a North German grandeur in his gestures and facial expressions. A barely concealed joy about the election victory, which he is very likely to face this Sunday. A joy that turns into political playfulness on this Hamelin afternoon. Weil feels like talking to the citizens, who can write their questions on beer coasters and submit them to the smiling moderator. Weil feels like performing, the little show. Like every good show star, he comes too late.