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POLITICS

German stars call on voters to shun far-right AfD in ‘Görliwood’

Film stars and authors are leading a call for a small town dubbed "Görliwood" to shun the far-right in mayoral elections next week.

German stars call on voters to shun far-right AfD in 'Görliwood'
Daniel Brühl is one of the stars calling for Görlitz to shun the far-right. Photo: DPA

On the border with Poland, the quaint little town of Görlitz has become the backdrop of many Hollywood blockbusters including “Inglorious Bastards” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”.

It holds a second round run-off vote for a new mayor later this month, after a first vote was topped by the candidate from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Alarmed that the town could become the first in Germany with an AfD mayor, actors including Daniel Brühl and Volker Bruch, plus writers like Daniel Kehlmann and Bernhard Schlink have signed a petition urging voters in Görlitz: “Don't give in to hate and hostility, conflict and exclusion.”

READ ALSO: Eastern German town of Görlitz named the best filming location in Europe

Volker Bruch who starred in Babylon Berlin was also part of the call. Photo: DPA

“Please vote wisely… Don't betray your convictions the moment someone claims to be able to solve problems for you,” according to the appeal that is to be officially published on Monday.

SEE ALSO: Meet the East German Greens candidate offering another alternative

As The Local reported, in mayoral elections held on May 26th, the AfD candidate Sebastian Wippel, 36, took 36.4 percent of the vote. He was followed by Christian Democratic (CDU) candidate Octavian Ursu, 51, who won 30.3 percent of the vote.

Green Party candidate Franziska Schubert, 37, came in third place with 27.9 percent of the vote.

The picturesque town has been featured in several movies. Photo: DPA

However, because none of the candidates won an absolute majority, there will be another round of elections on June 16th. On May 26th, 58.6 percent of the city's 56,000 residents voted.

Political rift

The results show a political rift in the population. The far-right populists in Görlitz won 32.9 percent of the votes in the Bundestag (parliamentary) elections in 2017 and were 6 percentage points ahead of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Görlitz, Germany's most eastern town, has seen a mass exodus – like many others in the former communist East – as people sought higher wages in western regions.

Spared damage by Allied bombing during World War II, the Old Town's eye-catching medieval architecture draws a steady stream of visitors, some hoping to catch a glimpse of Hollywood stars in action.

But like in other towns in the state of Saxony, the anti-migrant AfD party has gained a strong footing in Görlitz, manging to woo over voters.

Alice Weidel, leader of the AfD parliamentary group in the Bundestag takes a selfie during the election campaign in Görlitz. Photo: DPA

Railing against Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to let in more than a million asylum seekers, the AfD took nearly 13 percent of the vote overall in the federal elections, becoming Germany's biggest opposition party.

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POLITICS

All cell phone users in Germany to be part of disaster ‘warning day’

On Thursday, Germany will be testing emergency preparedness in its second annual 'Warntag' - and for the first time including all cell phone holders.

All cell phone users in Germany to be part of disaster 'warning day'

Floods are sweeping through a region, a widespread power outage has occurred or a cyber attack hits large swathes of the country – these are some of the reasons why Germany might need to use its disaster warning systems in the future.

On Thursday at 11 am, both federal and state governments will be testing these system for 45 minutes in order to be better prepared in case of a catastrophe.

For the first time, the Bundesrepublik will be sending out a warning to all cell phone users using a “cell broadcast”, which will they receive without having to be signed onto a particular app or part of a specific provider.

Why should Germany have a warning day at all?

The importance of alarm systems was highlighted by the flood disaster in the western states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia in July 2021, when people were not informed in time of the impending danger. Afterwards, a broad debate arose on how this could be improved.

Furthermore, amid an energy crisis and war within Europe, many people are also hyper-vigilant about what Germany would do in the event of a wide-reaching emergency.

Germany’s first Warn Day took place on September 8th, 2020, but many complained that it was not effective nor wide-reaching enough.

READ ALSO: What to do in Germany if there’s a power outage

What does the warning day test exactly?

A warning day is used to test the warning systems available for emergencies and disasters and to put technical procedures to the test. It is also an exercise to raise people’s awareness and familiarise them with what happens when the authorities sound an alarm.

A screen showing a warning system is seen on a display at the Federal Office for Civil Protection. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg

How exactly does the second nationwide warning day work?

A disaster scenario will be practised throughout Germany, meaning it will be extremely loud from 11 am onward. Existing or newly installed sirens will sound, and loudspeaker trucks will drive through the streets of some communities. 

Announcements will also be broadcast on trains, radio and television. The warnings will furthermore be played on media sites on the Internet. They will appear on digital display boards, for example in city centres or at train stations.

The message will also be disseminated via warning apps. In addition, a test warning of the highest level will be sent to cell phones nationwide via “cell broadcast”.

How does the test warning via a cell broadcast work?

The system goes out through the mobile network, using very little data and reaching cell phone users even when the system is otherwise overloaded. 

In cooperation with the mobile network providers, the authorities send a message with the respective warning to the cell phone that is logged into a mobile network cell and can receive network broadcast messages – similar to an SMS.

The information appears as a pop-up on the display and triggers an alert. This is the case even if the cell phone is set to silent.

The content of the message is deliberately kept short since as many people as possible should get the info via cell broadcast that there is no actual danger on the warning day. 

Of course, this is different than in a real emergency.

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