Smile behind the mask: How Corona is making life difficult for election campaigners

Election gifts are only accepted hesitantly

Ballpoint pens and lighters with the party logo, party-colored balloons, flyers with excerpts from the electoral program: they are indispensable utensils in every election campaign. But in times of Corona everything becomes a health risk. “We do not do without election gifts, but we only distribute them with great caution in the outdoor area,” says the head of communications for the SPÖ Vienna, Raphael Sternfeld. “People often say: I’ll vote for you anyway, but I don’t want to attack anything,” reports ÖVP campaigner Erol Holawatsch.

Shaking hands is a no-go

In the election campaign, being close to the people is the order of the day: shaking hands, patting the back, small talk at festivals and markets – a horror for every virologist. “How are you supposed to smile at someone? Establish a basis for conversation and trust when half your face is hidden behind the mask? Corona takes the emotion away from the election campaign. It’s a cold election campaign, ”says Holawatsch. Sternfeld from the SPÖ also complains: “Our top candidate Michael Ludwig cannot play to his greatest strength, his closeness to the citizens, in this election campaign.”

Home visits are perceived as a failure

The SPÖ Vienna is one of the best organized parties in a metropolis. But the virus robs them of this advantage. On average, the SPÖ Vienna made 50,000 house calls in an election campaign. “Health comes before election campaigns,” says Sternfeld, the SPÖ completely refrains from home visits. Holawatsch has also stopped cleaning the door in his constituency in Vienna-Floridsdorf: “People feel protected at home. You should respect that and not invade your privacy. “

Big events are impossible

ÖVP top candidate Gernot Blümel will open the election campaign completely virtually today, Thursday. There is only a very small stage with a few media people in front of the party headquarters, the event mainly takes place on the Internet. The SPÖ opened its election campaign on Tuesday with a pile of fifty instead of thousands of people. Such party conventions are primarily intended to get functionaries and sympathizers in the mood so that they can beat the drum. But the virus also kills the inner workings of parties.


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