Austrian Pirates in Coalition With Communists and Der Wandel

Austrian Pirates in Coalition With Communists and Der Wandel

On 1 March 2014 a little miracle happened in Vienna, Austria. The Austrian Pirates and Communists joined with Der Wandel into a joint election platform for the European Parliament. The two top positions were given to independent candidates, and the other positions on the list to candidates from the three parties.

Martin Ehrenhauser got the first position. The 35-year-old Austrian is already Member of the EP, currently without an affiliation to a group. His speech was showing some left color and a clear commitment to acting as the “Europa anders” door opener and go-between to Brussels. The second position went to Ulli Fuchs (49) from Vienna.

None of the three parties in this coalition is currently represented in the national parliament in Austria. The recent elections to the Austrian federal parliament had been a frank deception for pirate hopes, and despite their century-long tradition the communists so far only had chances for parliamentary seats in a few communes in the country. Looking ahead to the European elections, Der Wandel contacted both and suggested a joint election platform. Both communists and pirates took a while to agree, yet the temptation for joint success was much larger than the skepticism against the old-style pensioned worker movement style or the chaotic nerds with 21 years of average age… And what a new world opens up once people from such a diverse tradition look for the common points instead their differences.

As Martin Ehrenhauser addressed the convention carefully, the room itself had clear opinions and statements:

“We clearly see that the status quo politics has come to an end. photo 5Mainstream politics doesn’t understand the world any more!”

“When campaigning for the national elections last year, it was a pity we were fighting each other, we have so many points in common.”

“The programme for Europe calls for democracy at the European level, a general unconditional basic income, and clear alternatives for the austerity policy imposed by the current EU leadership.”

“There are some ideological remnants in the joint programme (coming from the communists), e.g. a bit of idealism about de-militarisation.”

This said on the same day as Putin’s Russian army marches into Ukraine.

The three parties opened the day with three party assemblies in parallel. The communists in orderly party convention style, with a clear agenda, all participants looking up to the leadership and an overwhelming vote in favor of the three-party coalition. The pirates in a room with at least as many laptops as humans, humming around tables and yet the most harmonious and orderly assembly since a long time. Der Wandel in a circle of chairs, calmly agreeing on the list of people for the election, and interviewing the open candidates.

photo 4

This coalition sends signals around Europe. “Europa anders” is part of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left.

Alexis Tsipras from the Syriza party in Greece is now the lead candidate for the European Commission president of the European list for the Pirates in Austria. Pirate Party of Greece still remain silent to the proposition for cooperation they had recently received from SYRIZA

The European programme in Austria is still very open. As the program aptly states: “We ask a number of great open questions that mainstream politics fail to address. We know that our answers are yet work in progress.”

  • Who has real opportunities and wealth?
  • Who holds the power?
  • Who benefits from the digital revolution?
  • Who does the economy serve?
  • How many lives are the cost of our peace?

A participant showed the way forward: How will we get people to continuously update our programme? How will we organize open participation as we go on? Pirates and Communists both can learn from each other. The firm tradition of face-to-face conventions meets liquid democracy. Ways of open participation exist that neither Pirates nor Communists have previously used, and Der Wandel might bring those in. Austria is a place for interesting experiments!

Featured images: The chairs from all three parties. A pirates table. Martin Ehrenhauser addressing the assembly.
All images: CC BY-SA Rainer von Leoprechting