German politicians like to go on tour in the summer, getting close to ordinary people, listening to them, joining in. If things go well, the process makes them look more human. But if things go wrong, they are left looking exposed.
Take Barbara Hendricks, Germany’s federal minister for environment, nature conservation and nuclear safety. She is a member of the junior coalition partners, the SPD, and recently took a trip through the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. She listened to the fate of the endangered harbor porpoise in the city of Stralsund and learned about trash in the ocean. She rumbled across a farm in a tractor and viewed the “model project for agriculture and animal diversity.” It produced lovely pictures of an organic farm in summer, which is what you would expect from a trip by an environmental minister.