Birgit Auras, a 50-year-old fashion designer in the Ostholstein region of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, has been under attack for posing in nude photos on her boutique website. Auras had hoped to run in upcoming regional elections in May as a member of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). But said she was unable to find a solution with the local SPD chapter on Friday evening.
"I'm disappointed and after the meeting I shed bitter tears at home," said Auras on Saturday. She wants to stay true to her party and doesn't think the actions of the local association reflect standard SPD opinion, she continued. "This is just an uptight local chapter."
Pressure that came from predominantly female members of the association forced Auras to withdraw her candidature because of the lascivious photos. The association encouraged Auras to remove the photos or give up her relatively hopeless 11th place ranking on the candidate list.
Auras moved to the small town of just 16,500 residents last year and joined the SPD. When the photo scandal broke, Auras announced she would still run in the local elections, provided her SPD critics would excuse the issue. But Friday's meeting did not yield the forgiveness Auras had hoped for.
Local party chapter leader Margit Giszas, who found the photos online and forwarded them to other party members, told reporters that she didn't need to excuse the photos because she hadn't attacked Auras.Giszas also said she would not run in the race if Auras was nominated because she wouldn't want to be associated with the photos.
SPD state party leader for Schleswig-Holstein Ralf Stegner criticized the decision. "This is 2008, not 1908," he said.
Neustadt SPD chapter honorary chairman Hermann Benker said the decision was "absolutely unreasonable" for Auras to be cut from her relatively hopeless 11th place position.
"One can't be happy with the outcome of the meeting," Benker said. "But one has to accept how the members voted."