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Movie stars urge 'Görliwood' to snub far-right

June 7, 2019

The eastern German town of Görlitz has provided the location for a number of Hollywood blockbusters. Now, actors, directors and producers have written to residents asking them not to pick a far-right candidate for mayor.

Görlitz  market square
Image: picture-alliance/A. Keuchel

German and international film stars, directors and producers have led a call for a small town to shun the far-right in next week's mayoral elections.

Görlitz, a quaint town on the German-Polish border, is the backdrop of many Hollywood blockbusters including Inglorious Bastards and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

But the otherwise-quiet settlement found itself in the spotlight last month when the first-round election for mayor was won by the candidate from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Read more: EU election: AfD surge in eastern Germany sets up clash of cultures

Sebastian Wippel picked up 36.4% of the vote on May 26, but narrowly missed out on becoming Germany's first AfD mayor.

Second vote next weekend

A runoff, scheduled for June 16, will see him take on against Octavian Ursu from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

Alarmed at the far-right threat facing the town, actors including Daniel Brühl and Volker Bruch, plus writers like Daniel Kehlmann and Bernhard Schlink have signed a petition urging voters to shun Wippel.

The letter was also signed by international film stars, directors and producers, who have worked in the town, the Leipziger Volkszeitung reported.

Read more: A German border town's Left government and AfD voters

"Don't give in to hate and hostility, conflict and exclusion," the film professionals wrote in their letter. "Please vote wisely... Don't betray your convictions the moment someone claims to be able to solve problems for you."

The letter prompted AfD lawmaker Tino Chrupalla to respond angrily on Twitter: "Goerlitzers don't need election advice from 'international stars.'"

Germany's most eastern town draws a steady stream of tourists but has also seen a mass exodus of residents — like many others in the former East — as people sought higher wages in western regions.

Read more: First mayor from former East heads German Cities Association

AfD popular in east

The anti-migrant AfD has gained a strong footing among remaining voters, along with several other towns in the state of Saxony.

Boosted by public anger over Merkel's decision to let in more than a million asylum seekers, the AfD took nearly 13 percent of the vote in Germany's 2017 general elections, becoming the biggest opposition party. 

Görlitz: Pearl on the Neisse

mm/rt (AFP, AP)

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