Sunday, September 30, 2012

Frank Stronach, Canadian-Austrian billionaire and political clown (Updated 10/05/2012)

I just saw an interview from Austrian ORF TV with Frank Stronach, an 80-year-old Austrian-Canadian businessman who's running for Parliament for 2013 as a non-politician politician as head of a party of his own that he prefers to call a "movement."

The guy is so clownish that he makes the American Republican Herman Cain look like a bit of a policy wonk. His idea for solving the euro crisis is to have every eurozone country have its own euro with market-driven exchange rates. Which anyone with even the slightest understanding of what, you know, a currency is, means simply abolishing the euro and going back to national currencies, even if they each call their new national currency a "euro."

But he either didn't know or pretended not to know that's what it meant. And he promised to appoint a commission to examine the idea if he were elected Chancellor. But when one of the journalists interviewing him pressed him on who he would appoint to his council of wise men (which is what he called it), he couldn't come up with a single name.

The guy is a bad joke as a politician. Which he claims not to be, although he ran for office unsuccessfully in Canada back in the 1980s and has been active behind the scenes cultivating the Austrian political elite in the two main political parties. He ran unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1988 on the Canadian Liberal Party ticket. His daughter Belinda Stronach was elected to the Canadian Parliament for the Conservative Party in 2004 but later switched to the Liberals and served in the national Cabinet. She left Parliament in 2008 and is now CEO of the Stronach Group.

TV journalism is still alive, though, even though in the United States it's desperately gasping for breath. The four journalists interviewing Stronach pressed him pretty hard and challenged his answers when they were unresponsive or didn't make sense.

He's showing up in opinion polls with as much as 17% of the vote, but it's hard to believe he's going anywhere with his latest political kick. Surely a large part of those saying they favor him are really saying "none of the above." Remember when Herman Cain led the Republican Presidential race in opinion polls?

((Update 10/05/2012: The 17% figure was based on the dodgy presentation of a poll result in the Kronen Zeitung that did include none-of-the-above responses and other tiny parties like the Communist Party and the Pirate Party: Stronach als Senkrecht-Starter vor NR-Wahl 27,09,2012. See also the Lacker/Schwaiger article cited just below on the Kronen Zeitung's presentation.)

See Herbert Lackner und Rosemarie Schwaiger, Der Messias aus Ebreichsdorf Profil 29.09.2012; Georgina Prodhan, Frank Stronach launches election campaign: 'Austria is my homeland' Reuters 09/27/2012; Sebastian Pumberger, Stronach: "Ich bin die Person, die die Werte vorgibt" Der Standard 27.09.2012; Markus Huber und Elke Windisch, Opel-Übernahme. Wer ist Frank Stronach? Die Zeit 01.06.2009; Frank Stronach – der Turf-Tycoon aus Österreich Der Standard 04.04.2012 (a profile from 10 years ago); Here's a ZIB 2 interview with Stronach (in German), ORF Interview mit Frank Stronach YouTube date 27.09.2012 about his current campaign:

This is a campaign biography from the TeamStronach YouTube channel, Frank Stronach: Biographie 27.09.2012:

That video includes a tribute from, gulp, Bill Clinton. (?!?)

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