Josef Pühringer, the governor of the province of Upper Austria, is the most trusted People’s Party (ÖVP) politician.
A new poll by OGM – published in the new edition of magazine profil – lists Pühringer ahead of Economy Chamber (WKO) President Christoph Leitl and Science Minister Karlheinz Töchterle. Leitl has often been rumoured to become economy or finance minister. He is a member of the ÖVP board.
Töchterle did not join the ÖVP but was nominated the party leader Michael Spindelegger to take over the science ministry from Beatrix Karl last year. Viennese newspaper Die Presse recently claimed that Töchterle might run for president in 2016. Karl became new justice minister as part of the party’s internal reform following the resignation of Josef Pröll. He decided to leave politics after suffering from pulmonary embolism. Pröll acted as ÖVP chairman, vice chancellor and finance minister for two and a half years.
Economy minister Reinhold Mitterlehner made fourth place in OGM’s ÖVP popularity check. Mitterlehner and Finance Minister Maria Fekter were given good chances to succeed Pröll before Spindelegger was named as new leader of the conservative party which cooperates with the Social Democrats (SPÖ) on federal level since 2007.
Mitterlehner and Karl represent the ÖVP’s liberal wing. While Karl’s reputation suffered following several flopped attempted amendments, Mitterlehner managed to secure people’s support by announcing a car petrol price monitoring system. The fast increase of fuel prices has always been a controversial political issue.
The Greens call for higher taxes on car petrol. The left-wing opposition party – which forms a government coalition with the Upper Austrian branch of the ÖVP – claim that petrol was still taxed not strongly enough in Austria. The party headed by Eva Glawischnig said the government should rather concentrate on creating better economic circumstances for renewable energy sector firms than debating how the fuel cost spiral could be stopped.
Last year’s car sale record figure of 356,000 means that Austrians own more than 4.5 million vehicles for the first time. Statistic agency Statistik Austria said that the country’s residents possessed around 4.51 million cars at the moment. Petrol cost half as much as it does at the moment 10 years ago, research reveals. But figures also show that this development did not only cause an increase of public transport passengers. Data also discloses that high-powered cars such as sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are more popular than ever before.
Sebastian Kurz is listed in fifth in the OGM survey. The vice leader of the ÖVP’s Viennese department became Austria’s first state secretary for integration in 2011. Kurz faced immense criticism by media and political rivals due to his young age and an alleged lack of political experience but also because of some controversial election campaigns in Vienna in the past. Now political scientists consider Kurz as the ÖVP’s shimmer of hope for the near future. Spindelegger said Kurz, 25, could become head of the ÖVP one day.