'German Borat' Rides High in Election Polls

By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2009 5:58 AM CDT
BERLIN - APRIL 24: Hape Kerkeling alias Horst Schlaemmer attends the German Film Award 2009 at the Palais am Funkturm on April 24, 2009 in Berlin, Germany.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – With the slogan "Yes weekend" and promises to subsidize tanning beds and cosmetic surgery, candidate Horst Schlaemmer has stormed the otherwise drab German election campaign scene. Unlike rivals Angela Merkel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, aspiring chancellor Schlaemmer doesn't exist—he's a character created by a comedian—but that didn't stop him from polling 18% in a recent survey, the BBC reports.

Hape Kerkeling, the German actor behind Schlaemmer, has been likened to Sacha Baron Cohen for his use of characters that blur the line between fact and fiction. He recently released a movie featuring Schlaemmer as a small-town newspaper editor who runs for chancellor; to promote the film, Kerkeling launched the "conservative, liberal, left-wing and a bit ecological" Horst Schlaemmer party, which pledges to change the German national eagle to a bunny.