Elections in Austria

Yesterday we had an election here in Austria. I was surprised to learn this morning that the Social Party took the lead – shocking, given their involvement in a massive banking scandal last spring. The far right Freedom Party took just over 11 percent of the vote. They ran an ugly, openly racist campaign that infuriated me whenever I saw the posters. The other right wing party was just as offensive, calling for a deportation of 30% of Austria’s immigrants as part of their platform – I loudly offered to be the first deportee in line whenever I heard the party leader on the news.

In my head it went something like this:

“Oh, we didn’t mean YOU,” they’d say at the BZOe HQ when I went down to volunteer to be deported.

“Then who, pray tell, DID you mean?” I would ask, pointedly, while the camera crew zoomed in on the hapless party employee’s face.

Given that the Social Party and the People’s Party took the lion’s share of the vote and that talk is of a grand coalition between those two, I hold hope that the new government will crush the far right’s participation in Austrian politics once and for all. But I also hope that the reason the Greens did so poorly is because green policy has become mainstream here in Austria. Hope springs eternal, and hey, yesterday at the harvest festival in Schladming, I watched little Indian girls dance to tuba music and hitch rides on hay covered floats, their brown hands stained with juice from wild blueberries. Austria has a chance, still.

If nothing else, now that the election is over, those awful posters will come down. I had to physically restrain myself from going on a propaganda remix campaign. They were bad, I’m telling you, saying things like “Homeland instead of Islam” and “Vienna Should Not Be Istanbul.” A newspaper checklist that listed things the FPOe was against included “The construction of new mosques.”

I’m on the hunt for photos of the Freedom Party’s campaign, remixed, but haven’t found anything better than the one we saw in town that gave Strache the trademark hairdo and mustache of Austria’s most famous facist – and renamed the FPOe (Freedom Party Austria) as the Fascist Party Austria. I salute you, my remixing neighbor! May you dance with the Indian girls at next year’s harvest festival!