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In what is likely the biggest gnome-related political scandal in history, hundreds of gnomes in Austria's western Vorarlberg state have vanished.
I know what you're thinking ..."But what do gnomes have to do with politics?" These were no ordinary gnomes, my friends, these were the Social Democratic Party of Austria's so-called "Coolmen" gnomes.
(Video via SPOE-Vorarlberg)
These Coolmen gnomes are part of a unique political campaign by the Social Democratic Party in which, instead of using the traditional posters to advertise their platform, they've been using ... gnomes. (Video viaVorarlberg Online)
According to Vorarlberg Online, the party obtained about 20,000 gnomes to be distributed nationwide. Once they've been put up in a city, local residents are then encouraged to bring them home.
But the story of these nomadic gnomes took a sinister twist when 400 of them vanished Saturday. The BBC picked up on the Gnomegate story as it was developing and interviewed a member of Social Democratic Party.
That member says, "An interesting detail is that now ÖVP [the conservative People's Party] campaign posters are now hanging at the same height on many of these lampposts. It would be 'a major scandal' if the gnomes had been stolen by another political party."
The ÖVP flatly rejected the possibility that they did it in an interview with Austrian public broadcaster ORF, saying that making such an accusation puts the Social Democratic Party on the same morally questionable level as the gnome thieves.
With the ÖVP denying any involvement, one has to wonder ... where did these gnomes go? How deep in Austrian politics is the culprit behind the disappearance of these gnomes?
Perhaps it was an inside job — a disgruntled political lackey who was tired of the Social Democratic Party's reliance on the Coolmen's political clout. All we can do now is simply wait.
The Social Democratic Party is offering a $1,300 reward for any information leading to these gnomes.