The Scottish politician who is more powerful than Alex Salmond

A HIGH-FLYING Scotsman has become the leader of one of Germany's wealthiest states.

David McAllister, 39 - formerly known to all as Mac and now dubbed "Big Mac" - took over the premiership of Lower Saxony this week after incumbent Christian Wulff was voted into the presidency of Germany in Berlin.

Mr McAllister has long been seen as a chancellor-in-waiting in Lower Saxony, one of Germany's most populous states, and is the country's youngest ever state premier.

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He has a Scottish father and a German mother and is proud of his ancestry - he wore a kilt to his wedding, drinks Irn-Bru and likes white pudding. He is married with two daughters, Jamie and Mia.

"I have confidence in myself for the office of state premier, otherwise I wouldn't have put myself forward for election," Mr McAllister said.

He said he planned to build on Mr Wulff's successful work in the state, adding that Mr Wulff's election as president was "the culmination of a great political career."

Mr McAllister and his two sisters spent their early years growing up in West Berlin, where his father was stationed with the British Army.

His father, James, was an officer on attachment with the signals corps. Before that he was a captain with the 51st Highland Division on active service in Germany during the Second World War.

Growing up enclosed by the Berlin Wall left its mark on Mr McAllister.

He said: "Berlin was surrounded by communism - that is how I experienced it as a child."

As an 11-year-old, Mr McAllister moved with his family to Bad Bederkesa, a small town near Cuxhaven in northern Germany.

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It was here in Lower Saxony that he began his political career, first as district chairman of the CDU youth organisation from 1991 to 1994, and then as mayor of Bad Bederkesa from 2001 to 2002.

He has been tipped as a candidate for chancellor Angela Merkel's job within the next five years, although he says for now he is happy to be in Hanover where he has "lots to do". In a recent interview he said that his background hasn't affected his political career.

"I have both passports but I'm more or less completely German," he said.

"I've lived in Germany all my life. I did all my school in Germany and my military service.

"I'm aware of my Scottish roots and of course if you have a name like McAllister, you're reminded every day, because you've always got to spell your name, pronounce your name correctly and answer the same questions: Do you wear a kilt? Do you play bagpipes?

"But never has it had any effect on my political work in Germany," he added.

But he did say his parents imbued him with an equal sense of pride in Scotland and Germany. He still returns to Scotland to visit cousins in Newton Mearns, and enjoys shortcake at Christmas.

A keen supporter of Rangers and Hanover football clubs, Mr McAllister also plays for the parliamentary team. His position? "Like my politics," he said. "Centre right."