Unfortunately, the really big cover is reserved for Lena and Mark Forster. But at least a little next to it, Friedrich Merz and his wife Charlotte greet them from the "Bunte" cover page. "Love Interview - The Secret of Our Marriage," it says. Spectacular! That has to be explored.
It wasn't that long ago that former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his fifth wife Soyeon Schröder-Kim made love on the "Bunte" cover. But "Gas-Gerd" has since rediscovered his love of politics - or what he thinks is politics - and is busy giving interviews as Vladimir Putin's advocate.
In other words: The space on the cover of "Bunte" is now free - for Friedrich Merz and his wife Charlotte! It's just stupid that the CDU leader, unlike Schröder, didn't quite make it to the large format. Instead, the place of the lead is reserved for Lena Meyer-Landrut, Mark Forster and her alleged "love nest in Italy".
But at least: Merz and his Charlotte were freed up a little space to the side. The 66-year-old seems to be looking at the camera through his new glasses with his shirt unbuttoned down to his undershirt. But at least his wife has a good laugh. "Love Interview – The Secret of Our Marriage" reads the snapshot. Yes, hey! But that needs to be explored.
Merz did not give the interview to a trembling "Bunte" editor on the pillion of his private plane. Even at 180 km/h on the Autobahn it didn't happen. No, the politician actually took the time to slow down and hiked "a few hours" with "Bunte" through the beautiful Hochsauerland. According to the magazine, "Hiking is Friedrich's passion," even if we actually remembered it a little differently.
However, Merz should not have had too many flashes of inspiration during the walk. The best ideas come to him "when I'm jogging alone or cycling," he reveals in the conversation. "Sometimes when I'm on vacation I leave early, do a little round and get some rolls from the bakery on the way back. Then my head is completely free," he explains, explaining how he might have thought of extending the nuclear power plant runtimes, for example.
Some people have recently noticed that Merz has new glasses. In other respects, however, it has hardly changed optically for many years. When asked if he had always been "such a skinny herring", he finally replies: "All the extra pounds in our family have been concentrated on one uncle. I try to keep my ideal weight with exercise and a little discipline - 89 kilos at 1.96 meters tall. At 92 kilos I feel uncomfortable." And his wife adds: "Friedrich was and is always sporty. We used to play tennis too, he feared my stop balls. Now we go on bike tours."
Her husband's fitness qualities are not the only thing that Charlotte Merz, director of the Arnsberg District Court, divulges. "It was love at first sight for me," she reveals, looking back on her 41-year marriage. And further: "It sparked when I saw Friedrich for the first time at an exam ceremony. I saw him and thought: 'That's him!' He still had a full head of hair."
However, Merz does not want to leave the reference to his top coat deficit uncommented. True to the motto "attack is the best defense" learned in politics, he counters: "But I find my current hairstyle extremely practical." But then he also returns to the loving gentle mode: "I noticed Charlotte right away. We then moved around the houses and I thought to myself: 'You should see this woman again.' I was four semesters ahead of her, but we saw each other every day at university."
Of course, their relationship is no longer "like on the first day," admits Charlotte Merz. But her husband has "never disappointed" her and has developed with her. "I don't want to miss a day of our time together." We do not know whether Merz may have turned SPD red with emotion at these words. But he agrees with his wife: "We have an eventful life and are always changing - but together."
Before things get a bit political in the "Bunte" interview, Friedrich Merz also talks about his hobby, which recently brought him some criticism. "Flying was always the dream of my youth. When you push through the cloud cover, see the blue sky and the engines run peacefully - that's a great pleasure for me," he explains, which is why he got his pilot's license at the age of 53 and was recently able to fly to Sylt with his wife at his side in his own plane to the wedding of Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner.
Even at the age of 66, Merz finally makes it clear that he does not feel too old to possibly run as the Union’s candidate for chancellor in the 2025 federal election. "Age is not a category in itself, it's all about individual resilience and performance," is his philosophy. And if you lose your elasticity a bit - you can definitely find a few useful tips in magazines next to "Bunte" on the shelves.