"Mac" brings Scottish flavor to German politics

Wed Feb 4, 2009 9:37am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Dave Graham

BERLIN (Reuters) - Might Germany one day be ruled by a man nicknamed "Mac" who got married in a kilt and whose Scottish father first arrived in the country to fight the Nazis?

David McAllister has been likened to a young Helmut Kohl and is currently the only member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) below the age of 40 to lead her party in one of Germany's 16 states.

McAllister, born to a Scottish soldier and a German mother, is one of a growing number of lawmakers of foreign extraction whose success is giving Germany's politics a face more reflective of its increasingly multi-cultural landscape.

"My Scottish origin has never been of any disadvantage to me," the Berlin-born McAllister, 38, told Reuters. "Perhaps it's even been an advantage because you've quite an exotic name for German politics."

It seems so far to have helped the trained lawyer.

When the CDU in the large western state of Lower Saxony voted to endorse McAllister as party leader last year, they did so by a record margin -- even though his predecessor, incumbent state premier Christian Wulff, has often topped polls of Germany's most popular politicians.

Before the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago, such a rapid ascent within the country's main conservative party would have been unthinkable for the likes of McAllister, said Dietmar Herz, a political scientist from the University of Erfurt.

"Society needed to change first -- and it has. It's a new phenomenon. And it'll increasingly be the case in coming years. There's much more acceptance of diversity here now," he said.   Continued...

<p>David McAllister, head of Lower Saxony's Christian Democratic Party (CDU), gives a Reuters interview in Berlin, in this January 26, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz</p>