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Angela Merkel, showing her trademark gesture
Then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (left) during the 34th G8 summit in 2008, imitating Merkel's diamond gesture

The Merkel-Raute[1] (German for "Merkel's rhombus") is what has been termed Merkel diamond[2] or "Triangle of Power" by English-speaking media, [3] a hand gesture made by resting your hands in front of the stomach so that the fingertips meet, with the thumbs and index fingers forming a rough quadrangular shape. This signature gesture of Angela Merkel, the current German Chancellor has been described as "probably one of the most recognisable hand gestures in the world".[2]

Asked about how the Merkel-Raute was introduced as her trademark, Angela Merkel stated that "there was always the question, what to do with your arms, and that's how it came about."[2] She chose the gesture without having been assisted by a counsellor[4] because "it contains a certain symmetry."[2]

Use by supporters and opponents[edit]

The stereotypical gesture was originally used in order to ridicule Angela Merkel and her government.[2] Most notably, it is found with comedians impersonating her, combined with the colorful jackets she is usually seen wearing. In Jan Philipp Gloger's staging of The Flying Dutchman, which premiered during the 2013 Bayreuth Festival, the Merkel-Raute is used as a criticism of capitalism: During the performance, the gesture is shown as the distinctive mark of a nameless, synchronized elite of bankers and managers.[5]

When used by her own party (the conservative Christian Democratic Union), the gesture is intended as a political symbol for Merkel's (presumed) unagitated leadership. On 2 September 2013, near the climax of the campaign for the 2013 federal election, the CDU unveiled a giant banner greeting travellers at Berlin Hauptbahnhof, which was displayed on two sides of a hotel building under construction, taking up a total space of nearly 2,400 square meters (26,000 sq ft).[6] The photographic mosaic was made up of 2,150 images of the hands of CDU supporters and shows nothing but Merkel's hands forming the Raute, next to the slogan “Germany's future (is) in good hands” (German: Deutschlands Zukunft in guten Händen).[6][7] According to Hermann Gröhe, the manager of the CDU election campaign, the billboard would perfectly “embody our election message.”[6]

Politicians of the opposition criticised the giant campaigning billboard as an instance of a “monstrous cult of personality,”[1][7] calling it “Cuban-style”.[2] Berlin-based newspaper Der Tagesspiegel used Merkel's nickname Mutti (“mommy”)[2] in conjunction with Kurt Tucholsky's poem Mutters Hände (“Mother's Hands”, which describes the hands of an old, dying woman) to imply that it was unfavorable for politicians to be characterized by just one hand gesture.[8]

In addition to the billboard, the Merkel-Raute was also employed in the CDU's other campaigning efforts. The Young Union (Junge Union or JU in German), the youth wing of the CDU, organised flashmobs in which members gathered in a circle while imitating the gesture in several public places in Germany.[9][10] It also produced posters[11] featuring a stylised version of the Merkel-Raute above the words “Cool bleiben und Kanzlerin wählen” (“Keep calm and vote for the Chancellor” or "Be cool and choose the Chancellor") a play on the British wartime slogan Keep Calm and Carry On; these posters were also made into various articles of clothing, such as T-shirts and hoodies.[12] This stylised version had also been used by teAM Deutschland, the CDU's campaign team, to represent Merkel on its website as early as March 2013.[13] Also, the Association of Christian Democratic Students (Ring Christlich-Demokratischer Studenten or RCDS in German), a student organisation associated with the CDU, created the website “Studenten für Merkel[14] (“Students for Merkel”) featuring photographs of university students imitating the Merkel-Raute with the slogan “Ich wähle Angie! Und du?” (“I'm voting for Angie! And you?”), to which readers were encouraged to upload their own photographs.

Internet meme[edit]

Since its installation, the giant CDU campaigning poster has enjoyed prominence on the Internet, especially with the users of social networking services.[1][15] The releasing of digitally altered images has turned into an Internet meme, most notably featuring Merkel's hands superimposed on images of Mr. Burns (whose trademark is a similar gesture), Grumpy Cat, Spock and others.[16][17]

The emoticon <> referencing the Merkel-Raute has also been adopted by the CDU as a symbol of Merkel in its Internet communications, even after the end of the 2013 election campaign. For example, it organised a competition on its Facebook page in which people were encouraged to comment with “<>” in order to win a bag printed with the aforementioned campaign poster.[18][19] It also used the emoticon at the end of its 2013 year-end video montage,[20] as well as in its Twitter congratulations to Merkel on her 60th birthday on 17 July 2014.[21] On 29 October 2014, in response to an alternative Merkel emoticon circulating the Internet that had been expanded to two lines in order to include Merkel's face,[22] the CDU confirmed on Twitter that it was the creator of the original "<>" emoticon.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Wahlkampf mit der "Merkel-Raute"". Deutsche Welle (in German). 5 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "'Merkel diamond' takes centre stage in German election campaign". The Guardian. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "One huge election poster and one pricey footballer". The Local. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Merkel mag die tiefe Stimme von Männern und beneidet sie ums Holzhacken". Focus Online (in German). 2 May 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Wiegelmann, Lucas (25 July 2013). "Auftakt in Bayreuth provoziert Angela Merkel". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Wittrock, Philipp (3 September 2013). "Angela Merkel Gets Super-Sized". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Huge Merkel hand poster sparks outcry". The Local. 4 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  8. ^ Lackmann, Thomas (4 September 2013). "Was sagen uns diese Hände?". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "JU Aktion Flashmob". YouTube - asimo asahi. YouTube. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Flashmob der Jungen Union: Stand your ground for Angie!". Stern. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Wahlplakat A3 Kanzlerin - JUNGE UNION". Junge Union. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Wahlkampf 2013 - JUNGE UNION". Junge Union. Archived from the original on 16 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Startseite". teAM Deutschland. teAM Deutschland. Archived from the original on 1 March 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "Studenten für Merkel". Studenten für Merkel. RCDS Bundesverband. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  15. ^ Kelley, Michael (6 September 2013). "The Internet Is Having A Field Day With This Gigantic Billboard Of Angela Merkel's Hands". Business Insider. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  16. ^ " Merkel-Raute". Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  17. ^ "Merkelraute wird zur Lachnummer im Netz". Bild (in German). 6 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "CDU's photos". CDU. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "Gewinnen Sie eine Tasche aus dem CDU-Shop!". CDU. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "2013 in Bildern - der CDU.TV-Jahresrückblick". YouTube - cdutv. CDU. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "Twitter / CDU: <>". Twitter - CDU. Twitter. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  22. ^ "Raute: Merkel hat ein einiges Emoticon". Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  23. ^ "Twitter / CDU: #merkelemoticon? Wir haben #dasoriginal <> #merkelraute". Twitter - CDU. Twitter. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014.