SPÖ-FPÖ talks a short-lived affair

Freedom Party (FPÖ) boss Heinz-Christian Strache has accused the Social Democrats (SPÖ) of “ignoring people’s desires” after talks about a possible cooperation in the city parliament of Vienna were ended after barely an hour.Strache said today (Fri)that the SP֒s Viennese branch would continue its “politics of isolation” towards the FPÖ despite having suffered massive losses in last Sunday’s election.The right-winger said he planned to “form a coalition with the people of Vienna” instead. Strache vowed to keep up the pressure on the city government during the upcoming five years. “We will garner more than 30 per cent in the next Vienna vote,” he predicted.The FPÖ won 26.2 per cent on Sunday, up from the 14.8 per cent it claimed in 2005. The SPÖ lost its majority in seats in the city parliament as its support dropped by 4.5 per cent to 44.6 per cent.Häupl made clear ahead of the election that his party would not cooperate with the FPÖ whatever the ballot’s outcome. The mayor claimed the right-wing party had nothing to contribute when it comes to discussing the city’s future. Häupl accused the FPÖ of creating hatred and fear among different ethnic groups living in the city.Strache today branded the next Viennese government a “coalition of losers” since all the SPÖ, the People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Greens lost support compared to 2005 result. The SPÖ reacted by asking Strache to “stop being whiny”.However analysts stress that Strache will certainly also see the positive aspects of being forced out of power in Vienna during the next five years. The right-winger, who also heads the party on federal level, is expected to point out how the future coalition between SPÖ and ÖVP or Greens will not care about the opinion of almost a third of residents who backed his party.Support for the FPÖ may grow under these circumstances if Strache manages to point out possible failures of the new government coalition. The FPÖ accused the SPÖ of ignoring the alleged unwillingness of many immigrants to integrate into the society – and controversially linked crime statistics with “massive waves of immigration” from Eastern European (EE) countries.Social Democrats explained today they decided not to hold further talks with the FPÖ since their policies had nothing in common at all. SPÖ representatives also announced they will invite negotiation teams from the ÖVP and Greens for further talks after the final result of the recent election – which will consider all postal ballots – is announced next Monday.Häupl and his narrow circle of councillors and advisers are reportedly in favour of teaming up with the ÖVP once more after their cooperation between 1996 and 2001. The SP֒s youth and student organisations, however, made clear there were in support of a SPÖ-Greens coalition.Both the ÖVP and the Greens made it clear during the campaign trail that they were ready and willing to take responsibility after the election. These announcements could have kept thousands of protest voters away from them while the FPÖ massively benefited.ÖVP Vienna chief Christine Marek and Greens Vienna leader Maria Vassilakou are under enormous pressure after the disappointing results of their parties.Marek especially faced criticism from her own party for deciding to run a law and order campaign after having presented herself as a liberal politician for years. Research by public opinion agency ISA/SORA found only 24 per cent of people backing the ÖVP last Sunday did so because of the party’s front runner. Vassilakou did even worse in this regard with a support of just 22 per cent.The pollsters also said 38 per cent of FPÖ voters named Strache as their “motive”, while 37 per cent of people supporting the Social Democrats said they mainly did so because of Häupl.Research has also shown that 46 per cent of voters aged between 16 and 20 backed the SPÖ, while only 21 per cent supported the Greens (FPÖ: 20 per cent). Around 24 per cent of Vienna residents who voted the Greens in 2005 switched to support for the SPÖ this time around, while 16 per cent of previous ÖVP voters made their cross for the FPÖ last Sunday.The state of the school and education system was been identified as the topic which mattered most to people in the election with 63.1 per cent, while 63 per cent said health system issues were of importance for them. Interviewed voters were able to name more than one topic.Security concerns played a great role for 60.1 per cent, while only 50.8 per cent named environment issues and renewable energy issues – a topic the Greens focused on.Around 17 per cent of people who stayed away from the polls said they found the competing parties’ policies “unappealing”, while 16 per cent said the same about the front runners. Fourteen per cent said they were disappointed by politics in general, while 12 per cent admitted having lost interest in political developments.The Vienna vote will have significant effects on federal political developments. It is the latest in a series of ballots the SPÖ suffered losses in. The Social Democrats failed to improve in any of the more than a dozen different elections which took place since Werner Faymann became chairman of the party around two and a half years ago.The party will also have to question its campaign strategy since it focused on Häupl and his supposed popularity on most posters issued ahead of the Viennese election.Reports have it that Vienna SPÖ health issues councillor Sonja Wehsely may join the federal government. She could replace unpopular health minister Alois Stöger.SPÖ Vienna deputy mayor and housing councillor Michael Ludwig could succeed Häupl as head of the city department of the party in around two years time to reform and get the faction ready for the 2015 city vote.Popular federal SPÖ Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer’s name has also been mentioned as a possible SPÖ Vienna boss and contender for mayor.