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A comparison of the Leader

image of Merkel and Thatcher

Francine Carron
Background of Merkel and Thatcher

Merkel: Thatcher:

• Born in Hamburg grew up in East • Born Margaret, Hilda Roberts

Germany • Daughter of Grocer who was active in
• Daughter of Protestant Pastor local politcs
• Married twice no children • Married with 2 children, twins (Mark &
• Studied Physics and worked at Academy Carol)
of Sciences in East Germany • Studied Chemistry and Law worked
• Rose to power via party promotion •Rose to power via party promotion
• In 1990 Minister of Women & Youth •1970-74: Secretary of State for Education
• In 1994 Minister for the Environment •1975 leader of conservative party
• In 2000 leader of CDU •1979 PM re-elected in 1983 & 1987
• In 2005 1st Female Chancellor • 1st Female Prime Minister
• Became leader in economic turmoil • Became leader in economic turmoil
• Only woman in G8, only female head of • Only woman in G8, only female head of
state in EU and NATO state in EU and NATO
Physical Appearance of Merkel and Thatcher (1)

Merkel Before: Merkel After:

• No make up • More stylish haircut

• No nice clothes • Well put together clothes
• Hairstyle not modern • Power dressing
• “More in common with a sandal wearing • Pantsuits with low shoes
member of the green party than that of a • Bright colored Jackets
leader of the center right party”
• Didn’t’ care about looks
• Didn’t understand the power of image in
• Political decision making prevails over
• Was forced to have a make over
• Celebrity stylist Udo Walz
• “Important to transform her gradually not
to inspire ridicule”
Physical Appearance of Merkel and Thatcher (2)
Physical Appearance of Merkel and Thatcher (4)

Thatcher Before: Thatcher After:

• Image was not a big issue • Dyed her hair very blonde
• Understood quickly the power and • Accentuated huskiness in the voice and
importance of image removed the accent
• Old fashioned skirts •Power dressing
• Pseudo – upper class accent • Feminine suits with matching jewelry,
• Hired a friend as fashion consultant black sexy nylons and high heeled shoes
• Took speech classes from public relations Matched with a heavy purse
advisor Gordon Reece and Millar • Always smiles in a picture
• Always looked impeccable and thought it
was one’s responsibility to look polished
• “She would have had a facelift if she
lived in America”
• Wore Victorian shawls to cover up
wrinkled neck when getting old
Physical Appearance of Merkel and Thatcher (5)
Personalities of Merkel and Thatcher (1)

Leadership is a function of personality.

Important aspects of leadership are to have

vision, values, will power, timing and the
ability to prioritize
Personalities of Merkel and Thatcher (2)
Merkel : Thatcher:

• Extremely flexible, smart and tough •Strong leader , conviction leadership

• Scientific approach to politics •Quick mind, faster mouth
• No nonsense • Straightforward
• VISION: Observes, analyzes and plans- • VISION: Ideas about strong economic
strategic thinker reform
• WILLPOWER: Very disciplined, Very • WILLPOWER: Get the job done,
determined, Took career one step at a time thatcherism
• TIMING: Well developed scene for • TIMING: Every moment is the right
timing, always waits until the moment is moment – direct to the point, focus on fast,
right, makes use of every opportunity quick and good results
• PRIORITIZE: Election Campaign of •PRIORITIZE: Tackled first the important
2005 problems
• VALUES: 0 • VALUES: Morality, Methodist thinking
•Score : 4/5 •Score: 5/5
•MASCULINE STYLE: She learned from •MASCULINE STYLE: “If you lead a country
like Britain, a strong country, a country which was
her the men’s mistakes and copied their has taken a lead in world affairs in good times and in
smart strategies bad, a country that is always reliable, then you have a
touch of iron about you”.
The Gender aspect of Merkel and Thatcher’s Political
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: President of Liberia
Tansu Giller: Turkey 1st female PM “ Iron Lady”
Golda Meier: Israel’s 1st female PM

• Female leaders invoke masculine styles

• Easier acceptance of Margaret Thatcher as 1st female PM then Angela Merkel (UK – history of
reigning queens)
• Eagly’s experiment: The Image Labels of Women

LABEL A: nice & warm but incompetent LABEL B: competent but unpleasant
Leaders labeled A cannot be leaders.

• Merkel was labeled A before she became Chancellor. In 1990 she was regarded as “naive and
harmless”, the media used to call her “the girl” , “das maidchen”.
• As Chancellor she received the B label- “old witch”, “Iron Frau”
• Thatcher always had the B label as she was from the beginning very confrontential
• Thatcher and Merkel rose to power through party promotion:

• 38 female PM and 27 female Presidents

• Studies of Whicker and Isaacs: The success of women obtaining ministerial =bypass the public
• The Public does not vote for women
• Marketing of politics means the reduction of politics to marketable images.
• Voters rarely know or meet the candidate- they are the mediated images of
• Leader image includes: physical appearance and personality. (Personality
includes leadership treats. )
• Thatcher is the historical example of the personalization of politics.
• Politicians that believe in policy above appearance are also obliged to adapt
their looks to be accepted amongst the public .
• In Western society today image prevails above decision making.
• Powerful female politicians have it harder with the concept of image then
men. They need to be intelligent and beautiful at the same time. When
female politicians wear the wrong outfit they are immediately treated with
disrespect in the media.
• Merkel and Thatcher are only compared because they are women in a man’s
world. In reality Thatcher has much more in common with Ronald Reagan,
they were literally soul mates.