SPÖ is up to date, says Schlögl

Former Social Democratic (SPÖ) Interior Minister Karl Schlögl has rejected claims that his party is in need of a new programme.

Only 27 to 28 per cent of Austrians would elect the SPÖ at the moment, according to polls by Viennese research groups Karmasin and OGM. The left-wing party – which is headed by Werner Faymann since 2008 – bagged 29.3 per cent in the general election of 2008, down sharply from its 35.3 per cent in 2006.

The Social Democrats suffered a humiliating defeat in the Innsbruck city hall election earlier this week. Their share dropped 19.7 per cent in 2006 to 14.5 per cent. The Tyrolean branch of the People’s Party (ÖVP) – which forms a federal government coalition with the SPÖ – was the big winner of the ballot as it garnered almost 22 per cent (2006: 14.6 per cent).

The federal ÖVP has a support of just 23 per cent in new public opinion investigations. It came second in the ballot of 2008 with 26 per cent. The party was backed by more than 34 per cent of participating voters in the national election of 2006.

Schlögl told the Salzburger Nachrichten that his party “does not need new values or a new programme”. He claimed the SPÖ “is up to date” when it comes to questions such as how the social market economy could be secured. The Mayor of Purkersdorf, Lower Austria, admitted: “What we might have neglected are Green issues. But we have caught up on that in the meantime.”

The first-ever coalition between the SPÖ and the Austrian Greens was sealed after the Viennese city parliament ballot of 2010. The share of Mayor Michael Häupl’s SPÖ dropped by around five per cent to 44.3 per cent. The Green Party garnered 12.6 per cent, down by nearly two per cent compared to the city ballot of 2005. The right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) – which has, according to polls, good chances to win the general election of 2013 – won almost 26 per cent in the ballot, up sharply from the 15 per cent it claimed in 2010.

Some analysts think that the SPÖ’s attempts to attract young voters who shun printed newspapers and television but get informed online come too late. Weak interest for Faymann’s activities on social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter seem to confirm such estimations.

Speaking to the Salzburger Nachrichten, Schlögl said the SPÖ would do better in the upcoming election than in the latest one nevertheless. The ex-interior minister – who has always been highly critical of the SPÖ’s tendencies towards the left of the political spectrum – told the newspaper: “Garnering more than 30 per cent is possible.”

Meanwhile, a political strategist has claimed that the ÖVP is at risk of being “pulverised” in the approaching election campaign. Thomas Hofer writes in a guest article for magazine profil that the party of Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger could find it difficult to position itself in the expected war of words between Faymann and FPÖ head Heinz-Christian Strache.

Hofer also writes that nothing is lost yet for the ÖVP. But he expresses doubts about whether the conservative party – which came first in the national ballot of 2002 – will manage to claim the thematic leadership in the approaching pre-election campaign scenario.