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Germany

Dracula Bares his Fangs at German State

A whacky campaign for autonomy by a self-proclaimed descendant of Count Dracula in an obscure village in northern Germany adds some colour to a lack-lustre election year.

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Not Ottomar Rodolphe Vlad Dracula Prinz Kretzulesco, but the real one

A descendant of the feared Count Dracula battling to protect his kingdom from a state take-over? Sounds like a scene from a modern-day horror movie.

Except we’re talking reality.

More precisely in a tiny German village in the heart of the northern state of Brandenburg which has become the scene of a bizarre struggle for autonomy.

The Count in question is a parliamentary member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who believes he is a descendant of the 15th century Transylvanian Prince Vlad the Impaler.

The some 1100 residents of the village of Schenkendorf (Dahme-Spreewald) are rallying around the 62-year-old Ottomar Rodolophe Vlad Dracula Prinz Kretzulesco as the self-proclaimed vampire calls himself.

Their aim is to resist the merging of their village into the larger community of Mittenwalde and instead become simply independent – as a principality.

A tax haven and unbureaucratic prinicipality?

The bitter struggle has been on for months and now that the deadline for accession laid down by the state of Brandenburg, March 31 has elapsed, the battle has taken on a new urgency.

Ottomar Rodolophe Vlad Dracula Prinz Kretzulesco has resorted to drastic measures of protest against the state’s forced accession. He has proclaimed himself a prince and the village of Schenkendorf his principality Dracula.

"It’s a kind of emergency measure to preserve our independence", Dracula told the "Berliner Zeitung".

And Schenkendorf’s weirdly famous resident also has the firm support of none less than the mayor and community representatives.

Dracula has lured his "subjects" with an enviable campaign, replete with big promises and incentives.

Residents of the principality will pay just 20 percent taxes, most of which will go towards ensuring the welfare of the elderly and young children.

Dracula promises a transparent and accountable government. The mayor will become the "president" and the Count himself will leave the governing to his expert ministers.

The Berlin lawyer Hanns-Ekkehard Plöger is prepared to become the justice minister and a lawyer from Bavaria will become the Tourism and Foreign Minister in the cabinet of the principality.

And that’s not all.

The principality already has its own emblem, national anthem, new car license plates and passports. And Count Dracula has decided not have anything to do with the euro in his mini-kingdom. Instead the Drac will be the currency in the new tax haven.

Constitutional law upholders not amused

But Count Dracula’s flights of fancy have come to a screeching halt in the face of Germany’s famously cumbersome constitutional laws.

The constitution only recognises states and communities and besides a monarch can’t be elected as head of state in Germany.

The Federal Interior Ministry isn’t amused by the antics of Schenkendorf either.

"I conclude that the building of principalities is not part of the communal reform", says Heiko Homburg, speaker for Jörg Schonbohm, the architect of the controversial reforms.

The state of Brandenburg has however ruled out sending in troops against the defiant village and taking action against what they see as a "funny, but unhelpful way of attracting attention".

The Count however remains undeterred and is obviously enjoying all the media publicity. "I’m supposed to appear on the David Lettermann show in the US" he told the "Berliner Zeitung".

"The Romanian government should recognise us as a part of their country" is his latest refrain.

Whatever the outcome of this maverick campaign, it does make the Stoiber-Schröder duel pale in comparison for a while.