Slack study result for Spindelegger after Kurz controversy

A controversial right-winger has higher approval ratings than new People’s Party (ÖVP) boss Michael Spindelegger.Research firm Karmasin found in a poll for magazine profil that 13 per cent of Austrians want Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ), head of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ), to become the country’s next chancellor. Only 12 per cent say the same about Spindelegger who took over as vice chancellor and ÖVP chairman from Josef Pröll last month.Social Democratic (SPÖ) party leader and Chancellor Werner Faymann has the support of 21 per cent of Austrians, according to the survey. Only eight per cent would elect Greens chief Eva Glawischnig if they had the chance to name the federal chancellor in a direct vote.These results come as a massive blow for the new ÖVP chairman who explained winning back the trust of “those who work hard and achieve a lot” was of utmost priority to him.TV station ATV found earlier this year – when Pröll was still in office – that the vice chancellor can trust the backing of 15 per cent. Twenty-two per cent of Austrians would have supported Pröll in a direct ballot of the chancellor last July, according to a Karmasin study. The former agriculture minister had even more support earlier on last year before the SPÖ reasserted itself by calling for taxes on financial transactions and assets. Pröll resigned due to health problems. He was sworn in as vice chancellor and finance minister in December 2008.Spindelegger was unanimously elected by the ÖVP board as new party leader. The foreign minister stressed he was ready to take responsibility although he never actively sought the position. Finance Minister Maria Fekter and Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner were also given chances to take over from Pröll as party boss by newspapers before Spindelegger was officially presented.He restructured his team of ministers within days, claiming that all of these decisions were solely his own without any interference by the party’s various branches ranging from the farmers’ associations to the public servants council. Political analysts are nevertheless certain that the party’s Lower Austrian Governor Erwin Pröll had his say after having publicly backed Spindelegger as possible new party leader.Johanna Mikl-Leitner, the new interior minister, was a provincial secretary for social issues in the Lower Austrian governor’s cabinet before it emerged she takes over one of the most important departments of federal politics. Some columnists expressed doubts whether Mikl-Leitner was competent enough to handle the various aspects the interior ministry has to deal with as more and more Austrians admit fears of foreign criminals.However, the nomination of Sebastian Kurz as new integration secretary was Spindelegger’s most disputed decision. Many political rivals claimed Kurz was the wrong person for the new position due to his young age of 24 and an alleged lack of experience. A large number of non-government organisations (NGO) criticised that his department was set in the interior ministry instead of the social ministry or the ÖVP’s economy ministry where Family Affairs State Secretary Verena Remler was forced to resign so Kurz can come on board at the interior ministry.Some charity organisation representatives and integration experts appealed for Kurz to get a fair chance in his new role. His opponents attacked him for having contributed little to the issue of integration so far apart from suggesting that Muslim imams should hold their sermons in German only.Others claimed that his biggest achievement to date was the idea to tour Vienna in a Hummer sport utility vehicle (SUV) ahead of last year’s city parliament election. Kurz, head of the ÖVP’s youth branch and the vice chairman of the party’s Vienna department, tried to win over young voters with the disputed initiative. Playing with the German term ‘geil’ which means horny or randy in English, the young politician called the black SUV a “Geil-o-Mobil.”The campaign turned out to be a massive flop. The ÖVP – which focused on putting front runner Christine Marek and Kurz in the centre of attention – garnered only 14 per cent. It was the party’s worst ever performance in the capital.