W ärter des Jahres

Chris Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Thu Dec 11 18:51:21 UTC 2008

On Thu, 11 Dec 2008 12:06:15 -0500, "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> At 12/11/2008 10:59 AM, Chris Waigl wrote:
>>In the third
>>place, we get Wachteleierkoalition (quail-egg coalition).
> Now you've got me curious.  What's the background for this
> agglomeration?  (No hits on Google, for the English; thousands for
> the German.)

OK, this is going to be slightly complicated. Bear with me, or hit N.

The term was coined some time in September 2008 by the leader of the
Austrian Green Party, Alexander Van der Bellen. This was shortly before the
2008 parliamentary election. The election had become necessary because the
ÖVP (classic large right-wing party) decided to leave the ruling coalition
it was in partnering with the SPÖ (classic large social-democrat party,
Austrian style). This coalition ("red-black") had become quite unpopular as
well. So Austria went into an election with, it turned out, 5 parties that
would get over 10% of the vote, and no clear suggestions who would be
forming a stable government, at least not one including the SPÖ (which had
been and would become again the largest group in the national council).
These 5 parties range from extreme-right (BZÖ) via hard-right (FPÖ),
right (ÖVP) and left (SPÖ) to left-Green (Green Party, no abbreviation).
Shortly before the election, in a move that was widely perceived as
populist, and on the background of widespread exasperation with the
political squabbling and lack of actual, solid and effective policy
suggestion, the SPÖ minority government made public its plan to abolish
VAT on food, but with a list of precisely 12 'luxury foodstuffs' that would
be excluded from the tax exemption: Kaviar

* Langusten (langoustes)
* gestopfte Leber (foie gras)
* Hummer (lobster)
* Safran (saffron)
* Trüffel (truffles)
* Wachteleier (quail eggs)  <----------- !
* Schnecken (snails)
* Austern (oysters)
* Strausseneier (ostrich eggs)
* Krabben (crabs)
* Garnelen (shrimp)

This was widely ridiculed -- and other luxury food items were cited all
over the Austrian blogosphere (Kobe beef, moose cheese...), which would
under the proposal be exempt. The ridicule reached its peak when the FPÖ,
perceived as an impossible coalition partner for the SPÖ, made it known
they were agreeing with this proposal. Van der Bellen's bon mot therefore
refers to an understanding between two unlikely political partners based on
their common take on how to tax quail eggs.


Chris Waigl

PS: Austria, predictably, went back to an SPÖ/ÖVP coalition after the

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list