Berlin, Germany - Pulling into Berlin's main train station from the east, the first thing one notices is an extremely big pair of hands looming over the city.

The massive billboard shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel's fingers forming her trademark "Merkel rhombus". Look closer, and one notices the 2,400-square-metre poster is a mosaic of thousands of pictures of her supporters' hands.

The metaphor is painfully obvious: Germany's future is "in good hands" with Merkel as chancellor.

Though Germany has avoided the worst of the global recession under Merkel's watch, and unemployment rates have fallen continuously since 2009, many foreign observers have trouble understanding what appeals to Germans about the plodding political style of their chancellor, whom they shower with approval ratings of more than 60 percent.

Merkel has been described in international media as an uninspiring figure - an "unsmiling quantum chemist", or "unremarkable and dour". Some Germans agree: Stefan Kornelius, an editor of the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, wondered whether she's "too boring for Germany". Once, when asked to comment on what she feels when she thinks about Germany, Merkel replied: "I think of well-sealed windows. No other country can make such well-sealed and nice windows."

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