Austria's Beer Party Is Gaining Political Ground on Platform of Free Beer for Everyone
The alcohol-focused political party claimed 10% of the vote in Vienna in a recent election.
Austria held its presidential election in early October, and incumbent Alexander Van der Bellen won his second six-year term after collecting over 56% of the vote. Van der Bellen’s win wasn’t exactly a surprise — but the candidate who finished in third place sure was.
Not only is 35-year-old doctor-turned-punk singer Dominik Wlazny the youngest person to ever run for president in Austria, he was running on a platform of free beer for everyone. That’s right: Wlazny — who also goes by the name Marco Pogo — is the founder of Austria's Beer Party (Bier Partei), a political party which has used the slogan "Politics as Close to the People as a Six Pack."
Wlazny received over 8% of votes country-wide — around 337,000 total votes — and collected over 10% of votes cast in Vienna, where he was the second most-popular candidate behind Van der Bellen. "I am extremely satisfied with the result. We have a very small team compared to other parties," Wlazny said after the election. "The budget for this election campaign was very small. I was only able to put up nine large posters in the whole of Vienna. But I could make videos to spread my ideas all over the world. And the result is extremely good."
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According to the Beer Party's website, their political vision was both prompted by and is outlined in the song "Die Bierpartie," which was released by Wlazny’s band Turbobier. (The song's lyrics includes lines like "We will abolish the alcohol tax" and "Every brewery in the country gets millions at a time.")
"In the beginning it was just a dream, but more and more people were of the opinion: Yes, Austria needs a beer party," the Beer Party site explains. "Everyone had in mind a world in which the mug would bring us all together peacefully to a common table [...] Carried by this magic and an indescribable spirit of optimism, the beer party was founded in 2015 on a legendary night. Nobody can really remember the exact events of that day, and yet the foundation for a new future was laid at that time."
Some of the party's platform planks include installing a beer-dispensing fountain in Vienna and free brews for all of its supporters, along with more serious initiatives like transitioning to renewable energy, prioritizing social services, improved immigration policies, and animal welfare.
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According to AFP, the Beer Party now has over 1,000 members, and Wlazny and 10 other Beer Partiers have been district counselors in Vienna since 2020. Some polls have predicted that the party could score up to 10% of the vote if they ran for seats in Austria’s Parliament, giving them greater representation than other, more established political parties.
"Whether in beer or in politics, new ideas must be heard. And it is only through novelty and fresh influences that something good can be born," Wlazny said. "And from this point of view, I see my candidacy as an incentive for the country to think about."
Austria’s next election will be held in 2024. Wlazny and his fellow partiers are undoubtedly raising a glass to that.