Europe

Beerocracy: Meet the punk using booze to be Austria’s next president

A punk rocker who is using beer in his bid to become Austria’s next president says he’s facing a “David versus Goliath” battle. 

Dominik Wlazny — better known by his stage name Marco Pogo — is running to be elected as the alpine country’s head of state.

He’s already gained fame for keeping a promise to install a beer fountain in Vienna after his Beer Party — which he founded in 2014 — won 11 seats there in local elections in 2020. 

At 35, Wlazny is the country’s youngest ever presidential candidate. He’s best known as a singer in the punk band Turbobier — meaning “Turbo Beer”. 

Wlazny admits he faces an uphill battle as opinion polls put him as getting 5% of the vote share, compared to around 60% for incumbent Alexander Van der Bellen, 78, according to AFP news agency. 

But the budding politician says he has plenty of ideas to “help Austrian people” deal with inflation, the return of war in Europe and the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of the election on 9 October.

Wlazny told Beeer Mag in 2020 that he used the alcoholic beverage to deliver his political ideas. 

“Beer is a wonderful thing, a great stimulant, a social enhancer, the lowest common denominator,” he said. 

Wlazny says he would be a “moral figure distanced from partisan politics” if elected president, which is largely a ceremonial role in Austria. 

“Why do we have 1,245 ski lifts in the mountains of Tyrol but no wind turbines?” Wlazny says, adding that protecting the environment is a priority for him. 

However, without the support of a major party, Wlazny is mainly limited to campaigning on the internet, where he has over 55,000 followers on Twitter.

He has a handful of stylish election campaign posters around Austria but says some have been stolen by people keeping them as souvenirs. 

Having studied medicine before going full-time as a musician, Wlazny has a unique selling point compared to Austria’s six other presidential candidates. 

“I am very happy that there is someone who stands up for good values… He is young, he is of this era,” Brigitta Koppelhuber, 78, a retiree from Vienna, told AFP.

Current president Van der Bellen, of Austria’s Green Party, is widely considered to be a favourite in the upcoming elections. 

He is currently polling above the 50 per cent of the vote required to win the presidential election outright in October. If not, he will face a run-off in November with the closest candidate.

Austria’s last election in 2016 saw a close battle between Van der Bellen and far-right politician Norbert Hofer, who lost by around 350,000 votes.

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