The White Rose on Conchita’s lapel gives you a big hint which Austrian presidential candidate this video is addressing, and it’s not Alexander Van der Bellen
As someone moving to Vienna next month, I’ve been keeping an eye on the Austrian presidential election. An election that kicked off on April 24th with a first round that saw far-right Freedom Party member Norbert Hofer end up in first place, and Alexander Van der Bellen of the Austrian Green party coming second. The run-off election is scheduled for May 22nd.
And what makes the first round troubling is 36.4 percent of Austrians voted for Hofer. A man who is an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Europe, gun enthusiast, and who belongs to a party that up until recently was still using racist slogans as it promoted its hate. A man who managed to garner so many votes because of the refugee crisis in Europe, that people like the anti-semitic, xenophobic French National Front party president Marine Le Pen congratulated him.
Other Austrians, however, are not willing to sit by and say nothing while a man like Norbert Hofer rides the coattails of the anti-immigrant wave currently sweeping over some areas of Europe, and into power.
People like Austrian singer Conchita Wurst who, this morning, released her first ever political video supposedly addressing both Norbert Hofer and Alexander Van der Bellen, and, of course, the Austrian people.
In the video, titled ‘Was ich vom nächsten Bundespräsidenten erwarte‘ (What I Expect From The Next President‘), Conchita spoke to both men saying “On the occasion of the upcoming runoff elections, I have a request. I urge our next President to look beyond his own personal views and, for the good of the country and its people, to look closely at what the country itself needs.”
She went on to say she expected the man who was elected president to have respect for all people, whether they were the people he had included in his election manifesto or not, and to have a goal of listening to everyone’s views and collaborating with all, so that Austria could become an even better version of itself.
As for her fellow Austrians, Conchita said their job was now to choose the right candidate for the job. The candidate who would not play one group of people off against another, and who will help Austria and its people to thrive. “Development is the only way for a better future. Stepping back is not”.
Conchita’s first political video has already received over 450,000 views on Facebook as of this writing, with comments under it ranging from full support, to a few seeming to think she is saying Norbert Hofer is the right man for the job.
If you know anything about Conchita, you would know nothing could be further from the truth.
Particularly as she has spoken extensively in the past about immigrant and refugee rights, the importance of all Europe working together within the EU and, of course, has spent the two years since winning Eurovision spreading her message of love, respect and tolerance for everyone. All things Norbert Hofer’s current message of anti-immigrant, separatism and xenophobia simply does not fit.
In fact, Conchita Wurst even gives you a little hint of exactly where her sympathies lie when it comes to Norbert Hofer and Alexander Van der Bellen. A hint wrapped around that massive white rose she’s wearing on the lapel of her jacket.
Something that, as a fashion icon wearing a gorgeous white Alexander McQueen blazer, she would never ever do. Not without a good reason.
Because The White Rose (die Weiße Rose) was the symbol used by a German non-violent, political activist, resistance group during the Second World War. A group that distributed pamphlets and political messages against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. A group that included Sophie Scholl and Hans Scholl. Siblings who were eventually both charged with treason by the Nazis, and executed by guillotine.
And today, it seems, we may have a modern-day Austrian version of Sophie Scholl in Conchita Wurst. Someone who is not willing to stand by and say nothing while the political arena of the country she loves is in threat of being taken over by someone like Norbert Hofer.
But, in true Conchita Wurst form, rather than shouting loudly about her political views, in an attempt to persuade people to her way of thinking, she is doing it the way she always does.
Calmly, politely and respectfully. And simply hoping people will read into what she is saying and, thus, stay on the ‘right side of history’ and vote for a candidate who believes everyone should be treated the same, that Austria belongs in Europe, and that the politics of hate have no place in modern-day Austria.
That candidate? My guess? Alexander Van der Bellen. A son of two refugees himself, and a man who heads a political party that fights for the rights of minorities and of refugees, believes in non-violence, feminism, environmental protection and, of course, LGBTIQ rights.
Because, while Conchita may be quiet-spoken here, that White Rose she is wearing on her lapel? It is not. Instead, it is sending a powerful message. If you only take the time to pay attention.