New and small parties are vying to enter city and district politics. In the run-up to the Viennese elections in October, these parties are scrambling to get their names on the ballot.
To qualify for the election, parties that are not currently represented in the city or district council must collect Unterstützungserklärungen (supporting signatures). For the candidacy in the city, parties need 100 signatures for each of the 18 voting districts, and for the district elections, parties require 50 signatures from within the respective district. The deadline to collect signatures is August 14.
Eligible voters can support parties by submitting signatures in the city’s district offices (Bezirksämter). Only Austrian citizens can vote in the city council elections, but all EU citizens above the age of 16 are eligible to vote in the district council elections.
In times of corona, campaigning and interacting with voters is particularly challenging. With the deadline fast approaching, parties are amping up their campaigning strategies – the Bierpartei is giving away free beer. Many have already collected all the required signatures – like Team HC Strache. Others, such as Mein Wien, still lack sufficient support.
Here is a list of the most prominent newcomer parties wrestling to get on the ballot.
The party’s name is a reference to Article 1 from the Austrian constitution: “Austria is a democratic republic. Its law emanates from the people.” Artikel Eins presses for “more direct democratic decisions” and “better commitment to electoral promises.”
Bierpartei (Beer Party)
Founded as a satirical project by singer Marco Pogo, the Bierpartei aims to represent the interests of Viennese beer drinkers. Pogo wants beer declared a common good, and therefore, hands out free beer for voters who submit a support signature for the party.
In English, “the Change,” der Wandel represents “disappointed leftists” and aspires to upend the political system. Its adherents perceive capitalism as its greatest enemy and believe it must be overthrown to solve the climate crisis. Its “future program” illustrates a vision that aims to achieve “a good life for all.” Further issues include the introduction of a 21-hour workweek, unconditional basic income, and €2000 net monthly minimum wage. As reported by ORF, the party will only compete in select districts. However, it has recently received attention for its apparently successful attack on Heinz Christian Strache’s claim of primary residence in Vienna.
Led by prominent former Greens and KPÖ members, LINKS is a left-wing party founded by the co-organizers of the Thursday demonstrations against the ÖVP-FPÖ government in 2000. The party fights for equality, lower rent, and higher wages and pensions. The party is running in the city elections, and told ORF that it has collected almost all of the required signatures.
The party is identified with leader Robert Marshall, formerly of the EU-Austrittspartei (EU-Exit Party). Similar to Artikel Eins, Mein Wien supports direct democracy and presses for citizen involvement in political decisionmaking. Its website states, “All Viennese should have a say on important issues.” So far, the party has not been able to collect enough signatures in any district.
Only running in Leopoldstadt for district council, the Piratenpartei formed in 2006 and was inspired by the Swedish “Piratparteit,” a left-wing party that promotes information freedom and data protection. According to the Austrian weekly News, the Austrian fraction advocates “increased transparency for political district work,” through live-streams or online debates. The party also wants to counter government surveillance and promotes internet freedom.
In 2015, this progressive party made it on the ballot for the first time. The party, created for voters who feel abandoned by the traditional parties, aims to provide a political platform for minorities and the most vulnerable, especially women, children, and the disabled. SÖZ stands for addressing the problems of climate change, greater wealth distribution, social equality, and a closer community.
Team HC Strache – Allianz für Österreich
Formerly called the Alliance for Austria, the recently founded right-wing party has now evolved into Strache’s party. Just over a year after he was forced to resign from politics due to the Ibiza scandal, the former vice-chancellor and chairman of the FPÖ hopes to make his political comeback with a new party, whose manifesto closely resembles that of the FPÖ. Catering to Austrians who want to “contribute to the good of the community,” Team HC Strache aims to strengthen national and regional interests, and says it stands for “comradeship, friendship, and solidarity.” In this year’s city and district elections, Strache aims to “form a strong opposition” and “break up the red-green majority.”
However, it remains uncertain whether Team HC Strache can compete in the upcoming elections. Although the party has enough signatures to qualify, confusion over Strache’s permanent residency may jeopardize his electoral bid. Only individuals with a primary residence in the city Vienna can compete in Viennese elections. The party chairman lives in Klosterneuburg, in Lower Austria, with a registered address is in Vienna’s third district, in the Landstraße. A police search at this address last summer revealed none of his personal belongings. Instead, officers were greeted by his mother, who allegedly owns the apartment and who claimed Strache had not lived there for 19 years. Both Der Wandel and the FPO, polling neck and neck with Team HC Strache, threaten legal action to block Strache’s electoral bid.
Founded when Britain applied to leave the European Union in 2017, Volt is a European movement and calls itself the “first and only pan-European party.” Aiming to solve global problems at the European level, the party advocates for a more democratic and transparent Europe, and a closer and stronger union. Volt is currently active in thirty countries and competed in the 2019 European Elections.
However, in Austria, the party has not yet gained much momentum. Last year, the party did not get on the ballot for the European Elections and is only running for district council in October. The party has garnered enough support to run on for the district council (Bezirksrat) in the districts 2-9, 10 and 21, as well as on the city level (Gemeinderat) in the constituencies Wien Zentrum (districts 1, 4, 5, 6) and Wien West (districts 7, 8, 9).