(CNN) — The German city of Dresden has declared a “Nazi emergency” after years of “right-wing extremist, racist” activity in the city, a local councilor says.
Dresden city councilors this week passed a resolution warning that the far-right was growing in strength in the eastern German city.
“The word ‘Nazinotstand’ is an exaggerated formulation for the fact that there is a serious problem — similar to the climate emergency — with right-wing extremism right up to the middle of society,” Max Aschenbach, councilor for the satirist Die Partei (The Party), told CNN.
Aschenbach, who tabled the motion, told CNN the move was symbolic and would have no legal consequences, but that it served to highlight the threat posed by the far-right in Dresden.
Dresden is where the PEGIDA movement (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West) first emerged in 2013, and regular rallies are still held in the city.
Anti-immigrant sentiment runs high in the state of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital: The Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) won 27.5% of the vote in this year’s state election.
The AfD became the first far-right party to enter Germany’s national parliament in almost 60 years when it came in third place overall in federal elections in 2017.
Aschenbach said his resolution, which was put forward to show commitment to a “democratic, open, pluralistic society,” was put to a vote by Dresden’s city council on Wednesday, and passed by 39 votes to 29.
“For years, politicians have failed to position themselves clearly and unequivocally against the right-wing extremists, and to outlaw them,” Aschenbach told CNN, adding that he wanted Dresden’s city council to support citizens’ initiatives, education, and culture in the city.
A representative for the center-right Christian Democratic Union party, which voted against the resolution, called it an “intended provocation.”
Jan Donhauser, chairman of the CDU group on Dresden council, told CNN there was no state of emergency, and that the wording of the resolution was damaging to the city’s international reputation.
“The choice of words in the title of the application does not do justice to the realities in our city: the vast majority of Dresdeners are neither right-wing extremists nor anti-democratic,” he said.