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German candidate buys beers, wins election

March 25, 2004 at 5:02 PM

BALLENDORF, Germany, March 25 (UPI) -- A small-town German election has been overturned because the victor bought beers for 21 of his town's 660 residents.

Andreas Benz, a 45-year-old farmer, was elected mayor of Ballendorf by only 17 votes, beating out a local electrician, German news agency Deutsche Welle reports.

Benz lost the job, however, when an unnamed informant told regional election officials about some of his recent generosity.

When asked, Benz readily admitted buying beer for 21 potential voters and donating 50 euros ($61) to help repair a local youth group's meeting place.

His election has since been annulled and he faces criminal penalties of up to five years in prison for bribing voters.

"This is crazy," Benz said. "It's not surprising that nothing works in this country anymore. Don't people have other things to worry about?"

Ballendorf will have until September to repeat the election. Benz has not yet decided whether he will run again.

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