A new party called Beer Party is gaining momentum in Austria as the coalition Government fails to convince its electorate they made the right choice at the last elections. The satirical party whose flagship consists in allowing unconditional beer for every citizen, is coming up in recent opinion polls in fourth place with 10 percent.
The party was founded by Austrian musician Dominik Wlazny. He ran on a more serious platform in the latest presidential election and secured third place.
Mr Wlazny founded the party as a joke, initially. But when he ran in September he prioritised renewable energy, social care reforms, and a “humane asylum policy.
He came third with 8.3 percent of the votes.
Mr Wlazny is known as a musician under the pseudonym Marco Pogo, as chairman of the Beer Party the activist at least already has political experience and is not bad at campaigning.
His supposed unprofessionalism and unpretentiousness are emphasised as positive features by his supporters: He is fresh and unspent, and at 35 he is by far the youngest of the candidates.
But he is by no means that fresh in politics. He had already founded his Beer Party in 2015, as a garnish to his debut album “Irokesentango” by his band Turbobier. In 2019, Mr Wlazny stood as the Beer Party’s top candidate in the National Council elections. 4,946 people voted for him, which was 0.1 per cent.
In 2020, Wlazny finally ran in the regional and municipal elections in Vienna . He failed to get into the Landtag, but the Beer Party still won eleven mandates at the district council level.
With demands to replace the high beam fountain on Schwarzenbergplatz, which stands directly in front of the Red Army hero monument erected in 1945, with a beer fountain, Pogo also succeeded in attracting proper attention as a district councillor.
This year, he skilfully used the federal presidential election campaign to expand his notoriety. Less is left to chance than it seems. There is now an apparatus behind it that works in a well-organised way.
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The musician seems to go down well with younger people and the left-wing spectrum in particular. This is painful for Van der Bellen and his camp. The 10 percent that Wlazny could win certainly hurts Van der Bellen – and it could be the deciding factor in a run-off election.
Wlazny does not let this give him a bad conscience. And even if he himself keeps his plans under wraps, it seems clear what his candidacy is aiming at. It is a trial run for a new candidacy in the National Council elections.
The next election at the federal level will take place in 2024. And then the SPÖ could face a problem. There has been little or no serious competition from the left so far. The Communist Party of Austria does campaign tirelessly, but apart from Styria and the Styrian capital Graz, where the KPÖ even provides the mayor, it plays no role at all and does not carry any weight in elections.
With Dominik Wlazny, however, the SPÖ could in future be threatened by the left, above all because of the twinkle in the eye that the Beer Party has in its programme, so to speak, and which is so completely lacking in other left-wing groups and even more so in the KPÖ.
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The results of the federal presidential election on Sunday will show how serious this competition from the left could be.
According to a poll conducted by the Institute for opinion polls and data analysis (IFDD) for Puls24, an Austrian TV Channel, the Beer party would now come fourth with 10 percent of the votes.
It comes as the People’s Party (OVP), currently in this place, is polling at just 19 percent, with its Greens coalition allies polling at just 8 percent, behind the Beer Party.
IFDD head Christoph Haselmayer said: “The ÖVP had recovered a fortnight ago, was at 23 percent. But due to the revelations around Schmid, three percent were lost again.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg