Kurier, August 28, 2017
German Original: https://kurier.at/politik/inland/dueringer-distanziert-sich-von-antisemitischen-inhalten-seines-spitzenkandidaten/283.226.558
The 70-year old top candidate of the new electoral party list GILT, Günther Lassi, posted the inflammatory pamphletThe Protocols of the Elders of Zion on his website. Roland Düringer’s list GILT is internally debating possible consequences.
Roland Düringer had the candidates’ order on his electoral list GILT drawn by lot. This way, a 70 – year old retiree from the Waldviertel – area (in the state of Lower Austria) was washed to the top of the list. On the Internet, Günther Lassi calls himself Merlin.
This Merlin offered esoteric texts and information on alleged conspiracies on his website. Particularly unpleasant: this information also included the anti-Semitic pamphlet The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – a forged document, which the Nazis, among others, used for Jew-baiting. After this fact became known via Twitter, Lassi’s website was taken offline.
Electoral list-founder Düringer distanced himself from the content that his lead candidate disseminated, but also criticized the reporting on the story.
„The political bickering in the Austrian media has now caught up with GILT, Düringer said in a statement, defending his lead candidate’s personality: „Günther Lassi is a decent guy, who does not harbor any fascist thoughts. There is no room for that in any form at GILT anyway.“ Instead of reporting on the idea of open democracy, individuals are attacked on a personal level and presented in a wrong light. But GILT is „more than a face,“ Düringer emphasized.
List can no longer be changed
Currently, the situation is being assessed internally to see „how we can handle this situation and then we will make joint decisions,“ Düringer did announce further steps after all. The problem: the federal list of candidates can no longer be changed after it has been submitted to the federal election commission. A late nomination, for example in the case of a deceased candidate, is also not possible. The only conceivable solution would be a -legally irrelevant - waiver by the candidate.
Contrary to state elections, the electoral law does not provide for a possibility to change a federal candidate list after it has been submitted, explains the department for elections in the Austrian Interior Ministry. If a party wants to distance itself from its lead candidate, the latter has to sign a waiver. However, in a worst-case scenario, this waiver would not be legally binding. If a candidate accepts a mandate anyway, there is not mechanism to take it away – the mandate appertains to the candidate personally, not to the party.
Faked anti-Semitic „Protocols“
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a notorious anti-Semitic pamphlet based on forgery. It was created during the early 20th century by unknown authors based on several phony texts and has been known as one of the most influential programmatic writings for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The protocols suggest they contain secret documents of a meeting of Jewish world conspirators. Beginning in 1929 they were published by the NSDAP.
Lassi Laments Shitstorm
„I am a simple human with little political experience and I am deeply shocked and disappointed by this shitstorm that has come over me,“ Lassi posted in the meantime. Furthermore: „yes, I made a mistake and incautiously put this pamphlet on my website.“ The website was taken offline as suggested by GILT. It is „pathetic“ and characteristic for the „polarization of our society and the media“ to damn him in this defamatory fashion.
The 1,000 applicants for candidature on Düringer’s list GILT were screened during June. The 36 questions in the Political Driver’s License – Computer – Test evolved around parliamentarianism, the EU and other politically relevant issues, GILT explained. Everybody could apply, they emphasized. During an additional stage of the application procedure candidates’ oratory skills and dealings with the media were assessed during personal meetings.
„The goal is to find qualified and dedicated people who can envision a future without party politics,“ Düringer explained his vision. A possible GILT faction in parliament would become the voice of former non-voters in parliament. The goal proclaimed by Düringer, according to a statement from June: „Further develop democracy and kick the parties out of parliament.“