Charlotte Merz, wife of Friedrich Merz, recently caused a stir. She pushed the microphone away from a ZDF reporter who wanted to question the CDU leader about the concept of leading culture in front of the camera with the words: “First and foremost, leading culture means asking whether you want to give an answer.”

This “angry announcement” (ZDF) has, in the course of the usual uproar, led to accusations against Charlotte Merz’s understanding of the law because she is not only a district judge, but could also be the wife of the next chancellor. After all, no one has yet demanded that Mr. Merz should only be allowed to run if he divorces Ms. Merz because she does not undoubtedly stand on the basis of the free democratic basic order.

And what if she actually becomes one soon?

The typology of the chancellor’s wife (and the only chancellor’s husband to date) has changed over the decades. It is striking that from Ludwig Erhard on (Konrad Adenauer came to office as a widower) all chancellors had strong, mostly well-educated women at their side, although all of them, including the journalist Doris Schröder-Köpf, refrained from working during their husband’s reign. Rut Brandt, Loki Schmidt and Hannelore Kohl submitted to their husbands’ duties, advised them on decisions, impressed foreign heads of state with their charm or their knowledge of foreign languages, were involved in charitable activities – and often suffered from loneliness.

Loki Schmidt, as the historian Heike Specht writes in her book “Your Side of History,” described himself as the “in-law of politics.” In the vacation photos from Lake Wolfgang, Hannelore Kohl presented a smile that seemed cemented – “almost iconographic evidence of a West German pseudo-reality,” as the “Hamburger Abendblatt” once wrote about the photos.

Doris Schröder-Köpf was the first to intervene aggressively in her husband’s political affairs. During the 2005 election campaign, she said of the childless Angela Merkel that her biography did not represent the experiences of most women who have to raise children and take care of their jobs. Schröder defended his wife by saying that she “lives what she says.” That is “not least the reason why I love her”.

Merkel’s husband Joachim Sauer, a renowned scientist, was not only the first partner who simply continued working. He also refused to comment on the Chancellor. “My person has no relation to Angela Merkel’s political work. That’s why I’m not interesting to the public.” When we once met him in a meeting room of the government plane as Merkel’s accompanying press on a flight to George W. Bush’s private ranch, Sauer ran away, visibly frightened and without saying a word. He only appeared as chancellor’s husband when it couldn’t be avoided – an attitude that Britta Ernst took over from Sauer in the same way that her husband Olaf Scholz took over the couch in the chancellor’s office from Merkel.

Charlotte Merz is clearly supposed to be helping her husband to have a modern image of women. We don’t know whether the now 63-year-old would remain an active judge in the event of Chancellor Merz. If so, her husband would have to hold out for three years so that his wife becomes the first chancellor’s wife to reach retirement age in her job. If you really think about it, that would be considerable progress that the CDU should definitely assign to its dominant culture.