The chandeliers within the ballroom go darkish, a person in lederhosen jumps onto the stage and launches right into a frenzied, Falco-inspired rap with an English refrain: “Thanks, Frank.” All eyes are on Austrian-Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach, 81, and his eponymous “Group Stronach” get together, the political newcomer to Sunday’s common election in Austria.
Based a 12 months in the past, the get together has declared conflict on what it calls “the system” – a corrupt cartel of Austrian banks, corporations and unions that, in accordance with Stronach, run Austria for their very own ends. Serving to, he says, is the grand left-right coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the conservative Individuals’s Celebration (ÖVP) that has dominated Austria for many of its postwar historical past.
Stronach, financier and entrance man in his campaign towards the system and corruption, left Austria in 1954 for Canada to discovered auto components large Magna, which employs 120,000 individuals around the globe. Though he’s not a candidate, all of Group Stronach’s election supplies urge Austrians to “Vote for Frank” on Sunday. This system he devised guarantees tax cuts, debt discount, a pruning of public administration and a two-term restrict for politicians serving as deputies.
Frank critic of the EU
“Most of them simply have their snouts within the trough,” Stronach tells The Irish Instances on the get together’s rally in St Polten, west of Vienna. “Our aim is to get some seats in parliament and maintain hammering.” After the victory within the regional elections, the principle goal of the get together is to hinder the return of the outgoing SPÖ-ÖVP alliance within the Vienna parliament, breaking Austria’s default grand coalition mode.
Stronach can also be an outspoken critic of the EU, attacking bailouts and calling for an finish to the only foreign money, a requirement he has softened within the marketing campaign for a variable change system or parallel currencies.
“What bothers Frank is the Austrian money owed and those we signed with the ESM bailout fund,” stated Gerald Zelina, a member of parliament from Group Stronach who received a seat in Vienna’s parliament by regional elections. Zelina says Group Stronach will not be xenophobic or akin to different protest actions over the euro disaster.
The octogenarian has injected some shade into an in any other case routine election marketing campaign, giving a shirtless interview and saying he had no cause to be ashamed of his physique. That prompted Heinz-Christian Strache, chief of the populist right-wing Freedom Celebration (FPÖ), and half Stronach’s age, to publish a snapshot of his greased torso in a washing go well with on-line. The hasty reply spoke for itself. As soon as respiratory the neck of ruling events in polls, Group Stronach has stolen a lot of the FPÖ’s populist protest vote.
Ardour for horses
Along with enterprise and politics, Stronach’s ardour is horses. He visited Eire final 12 months to see racing jumper Cian O’Connor, purchase his horse Blue Loyd, and rent O’Connor to educate his granddaughter Nicky. “He is direct, what you see is what you get, and no bullshit,” O’Connor says in a cellphone interview. “For somebody so profitable, it’s exceptional how in contact they’re with actuality.”
That may be a verdict shared by his followers in St Pölten. “If I had a billion euros I’d in all probability prefer to lie down on a seaside with girls, however not Frank, he desires to present one thing again to Austria”, says Martin Piribauer (34). The ballroom lights are dimmed once more, and followers watch a brief documentary on Stronach’s life, with contributions from Larry King and Invoice Clinton. “They’ve created so many roles and enriched society, I’m happy with our friendship,” says the previous president of the USA.
Then Stronach takes the stage for an affable and lighthearted speech. He is an unbiased thinker, he says, with nothing to show and a deep need to free his homeland from the debt-driven politics pushed by profession politicians.
Group Stronach as soon as relied on a double-digit consequence, however the newest polls put it at 7 % and it is sinking. Whereas the ruling SPÖ has warned towards the “billionaire authorities”, others have criticized Group Stronach’s hefty electoral spending of at the very least four million euros, a 3rd of the entire.
Then got here Stronach’s erratic tv performances, attacking opponents, presenters and, as soon as, the studio viewers. After which an interview during which he appeared to help the demise penalty for hit males.
The opposite aspect of Stronach’s light persona seems like lightning as he leaves the ballroom of the Lodge St Pölten. Signal autographs and smile patiently for numerous images. Then, out of nowhere, he lashes out at a younger reporter for state broadcaster ORF, who he believes is campaigning towards him.
“The individuals who help the system are a part of the corruption,” he snaps as his managers smile meekly. Austrian voters have the selection on Sunday between “the system” and the Stronach system: Frank by title, Frank by nature.
* This text was modified on September 30, 2013 to right a factual error.