Raiffeisen job for ex-vice chancellor

Former People’s Party (ÖVP) boss Josef Pröll is to head an internationally operating agricultural company.The Lower Austrian-Viennese branch of Raiffeisen – Austria’s biggest private employer – announced yesterday (Weds) that the ex-finance minister will take over at its affiliate Leipnik-Lundenburger Invest Beteiligungs AG (LLI) next month. Pröll agreed with supervisory board officials on a five-year contract.LLI is a leading manufacturer of flour. The mill-managing company holds shares in various foodstuff firms but also in Casinos Austria. LLI achieved a turnover of 882 million Euros in the 2010/2011 business year. The firm said it aimed to rake in more than one billion Euros in the current business year.Rumours that Pröll may join Raiffeisen have existed ever since he stepped down in April. Doctors appealed to the former vice chancellor to change his life completely after two thromboses in the past years and pulmonary embolism last March. Commentators expected Pröll – who was sworn in as vice chancellor and finance minister in December 2008 – to step down as ÖVP chairman while keeping the post of finance minister before the former agriculture minister announced his retirement from all political functions.Pröll explained he considered his fragile condition as a “warning sign” that must not be ignored. However, he also deplored a “lack of decency of a few politicians” – a statement most newspapers linked to the ÖVP’s former members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Ernst Strasser and Hella Ranner.Strasser stepped down after investigative journalists exposed what seems to be his willingness to accept money for lobbying activities. The ex-interior minister was secretly filmed during a meeting in which he offered to become active in the European Parliament’s (EP) lawmaking process in favour of a company for 100,000 Euros.Ranner is accused of covering personal debts of seven million Euros with MEPs’ reimbursement of expenses. She has denied the allegations. Ranner argued she decided to quit as MEP to fully focus on proving wrong those making such claims. The ex-MEP withdrew from the public spotlight after having made this statement in March.Meanwhile, new ÖVP chief Michael Spindelegger is pressurised to up his efforts in getting the ailing party back on track. Polls reveal that its coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPÖ) of Chancellor Werner Faymann, have remained relatively stable (28 per cent) – while the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) managed to catch up with the ÖVP in popularity (26 per cent each).Only 12 per cent of voters would back Spindelegger were they asked to elect the next Austrian chancellor in a direct ballot, according to a study by Karmasin for magazine profil. Faymann has the support of 21 per cent, while FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache could trust 13 per cent of Austrians.More than 95 per cent of delegates supported Spindelegger when he was officially elected as new leader of the ÖVP in a federal summit in Innsbruck last month. Pröll garnered less than 90 per cent in 2008.The SPÖ-ÖVP coalition’s cabinet of ministers met at the Semmering Mountain in Lower Austria earlier this week to agree on a package of measures consisting of 90 points. The government explained it wanted to prove its intention of getting the country forward.The FPÖ claimed the gathering was nothing but a disguised holiday. The Greens revealed several of the newly presented bylaws and bills – including more financial support for families – were in force before the coalition got rid of them as it tried to restore the state budget.