The KPÖ, the Pirate Party, Der Wandel (“The Change”) and non-partisan independents have established an electoral alliance for the European elections
The new electoral alliance, Europa anders (“Europe different”) held its founding convention on 1 March in Vienna. The KPÖ (Communist Party of Austria), the Pirates and the Der Wandel Party, as well as many independents (termed “the fourth element”) will form an electoral alliance at the European elections in May.
Two independents were elected top candidates; Martin Ehrenhauser and the feminist activist and cultural worker, Ulli Fuchs. Martin Ehrenhauser, who ranked first, is already an MEP. In 2009 he was elected to the EP, together with Hans Peter Martin, the populist “anti-corruption fighter” from Austria; with Martin turning out to be corrupt himself. Ehrenhauser then parted with Liste Martin (“Martin List”) and became a non-partisan and independent MEP. He managed to win the approval of 70% of the convention’s participants who were drawn from the KPÖ, the Pirates, Der Wandel and independents.
In the 2013 general election the three parties of the alliance together gained 90.000 votes. If 150.000 people vote for Europa anders now, a mandate is possible.
In May, 18 Austrian representatives will be elected. At the moment there are 19 Austrian MEPs: six Conservatives (EEP), five Social Democrats, one Liberal (also formerly part of Liste Martin), two Greens and five independent MEPs; the latter including three representatives of the right-wing extremist FPÖ (“Freedom Party of Austria”), as well as Hans Peter Martin and Martin Ehrenhauser.
If Europa anders wins a mandate and enters the EP, Ehrenhauser will probably join the GUE/NGL parliamentary group. This would be the first mandate for the Austrian Left in history. Ehrenhauser defines himself as a left-wing liberal; as a university student he was active in the Liberale Studentenfraktion (“Liberal Students Faction”). The issues he focuses on are, amongst others, transparency, democracy and now also the free-trade agreement with the US (TTIP).
Hence, Europa anders does not consist of “the usual suspects”. All four elements of the electoral alliance – the Pirates, Der Wandel, the independents and the KPÖ – can learn a lot from one another. In the run-up to the last general election, the KPÖ tried to organise a left-wing electoral bloc which would not have borne the name “KPÖ” and at least one-third of whose members would have been independents, but failed to achieve this.
This electoral alliance receives media exposure to a degree that the Austrian Left and especially the KPÖ does not usually enjoy due to a “wall of silence and anti-communism”. Furthermore, by joining forces, Europa anders hopes to side-step the usual argument advanced that a vote for a small party is a wasted vote.
The electoral alliance’s core issues include democracy in European institutions, the struggle against unemployment, (“the reduction of weekly working hours, promotion of economic activities to the benefit of public welfare, as well as energy transition by 2040”). Another central topic is the access to fast, free and uncensored internet, data protection, net neutrality and the struggle against surveillance.
Europa anders stands for regulating the financial economy, fighting tax havens and closing tax loopholes.
The electoral alliance opposes the concept of a “Fortress Europe” and promotes an active policy of peace.
Find Alexis Tsipras' message to the founding congress at the right - Media files