EP Elections: ‘Where Do You Go?’

7 06 2009

I admit: I have cast my vote in the elections to the European Parliament at about 10.40 am this morning. So, I am one of about 35 to 40 percent of the Austrian electorate – my estimation – that by the end of the day will have cast their vote for the 17 Austrian seats in the European Parliament. In 2004, 42.5% went to the polls.

There were a few novelties for me: For the first time, I made my way to the polling station without any idea who I am going to vote. As resident of Vienna’s most-populated district Favoriten, it is a five-minute walk to the primary school at Keplerplatz, right at the administrative center of Vienna’s 10th district, just off the underground station of the same name and the pedestrian Favoritenstrasse.

While attentatively walking through the streets at a humid but cloudy Sunday morning, I recall No Mercy’s 1996-hit ‘Where Do You Go?’ Indeed, where is Europe heading, I wonder.
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EURO2008 City Scenes: Turkey, It’s Party Time! Behold the ‘Russian Revolution’!

25 06 2008

Photos: Party Scenes of Turkey supporters in Ottakring district, Vienna, on June 20 – 21, 2008. Pictures kindly provided by Dominik Gubi.

A breathtaking game, possibly the highlight seen so far in the European Football Championship this year, was the match Croatia vs. Turkey on June 20, at the Ernst-Happel-Stadium in Vienna. A game that challenged the 4,000 police oficers in the Austrian capital, because both countries have a considerable minority, besides about 200,000 fans stormed the ciry that day. Melting point of both, indeed was Vienna’s 16th district Ottaking, and some riots broke out after the game, procoked by Croatian supporters, who seemed certain to have won the semi-finale qualification with their goal in the 119th minute. But the rapid response from the Turkish team – we should remember Turkey vs. Czech Republic a few days earlier – brought the equalizer, and the following shoot-out, in which the Turkish team had stronger nerves.

As a few days later in the game between Russia vs. Netherlands, again the stronger team and favourites to win, were eliminated: the Netherlands on June 21 in Basel, Switzerland. I am dissapointed about the departure of the Netherlands, but I am excited about Russia’s success, as this is the first serious showing of the Russian national team in an international competition since fall of Communism.

I remember well, when Turkey, yet again on June 20, turned a game around in seconds, and even the streets near my home went absolutely crazy until 2.00 and 3.00 am. The music went up loudly after the Turkish triumph, and the car horns kept sounding for hours. No sleep for those of us, who were not directly involved.

But a few days ahead of the game, I wandered about in Favoriten, my home district, to collect a few impressions of the games, and the upcoming friendly rivalry between Croatia and Turkey. Just off the underground station U1 Keplerplatz on the pedestrianized Favoritenstrasse, I passed the local ‘institution’, Danas Imbiss (or also known as Danas Hütte), a local Würstelstand (a Viennese version of a Hot Dog stand). The proud owner, a middle-aged Polish lady with long blond hair who runs this facility already for decades, did not hide her Austrian, as well as Polish patriotism with her strong accent. However, in front of a journalist, she would not want to comment, and my enquiry was viewed with suspicious eyes by the clientel consuming beer and hefty Viennese sausages.

Elderly, far-right Austrians are among her core customers, and for those, she has provided a small LCD screen to watch the EURO games. Until Poland’s departure, however, she wore an apron with the Polish eagle on a white background. Under the two large, green parasols with tables and chairs, however, were the Austrian flags affixed.

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EURO2008 City Scenes: Turkey’s ‘Miracle’, the Dutch Determination and Austria’s Farewell

17 06 2008

Photo: Turkish Fans: Disappointment followed euphoria after a breathtaking finish against Czech Republic, ending 3:2 on June 15 in Geneva.

Although Turkey played so far only in Switzerland, the Turkish community in Vienna certainly followed with great excitement the games. I live in Vienna’s 10th district, Favoriten, which has a more substantial Turkish minority: Of the approx. 170,000 inhabitants here – this is Vienna’s most-populated district – 3.9 % are Turkish (the foreign citizens are overall about 20% here).

So, for most of the match on June 15, the Czech Republic clearly led the game and goals, 2:0, and so when I left my apartment at about 10.00 pm, I was sure that this won’t change. I began to realize that I possibly lose another prediction – I was betting that Turkey would reach the quarter-finale.

The world was a quite a different one 30 to 40 minutes later: I took a short walk around Stephansplatz when I made my way back down to the underground U 1, where the security staff received their final orders: “The match just finished – we stay here in the station. That are our orders,” their supervisor instructed the 5 somewhat youngish men, wearing yellow security vests. I was confused: Was there a match in Vienna that night? No. But then the result of the match Turkey vs. Czech Republic appeared on the TV monitors showed the final result – where did those three goals come from?
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