SPÖ’s big guns trained on Strache

Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl has warned from a coalition between the People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ).

The influential Social Democrat – who became mayor of the capital in 1994 – appealed in his speech at yesterday’s (Tues) International Workers’ Day in downtown Vienna to fellow party members to do everything they can to avoid another partnership between ÖVP and FPÖ.

The first five-year cooperation of ÖVP and FPÖ caused a stir in Austria and abroad as then-ÖVP head Wolfgang Schüssel promised to go into opposition if this party came third in the ballot of 2000. Schüssel agreed with FPÖ bosses about a partnership – and triggered a global debate about the FPÖ’s alleged reluctance when it comes to disassociating itself from the Nazis’ crimes before and during World War Two (WWII).

The controversial partnership lasted until 2005 when the FPÖ nearly imploded. Schüssel’s team of ministers decided to cooperate with a political movement formed by late FPÖ head Jörg Haider, the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ). The party, which remained part of the government until 2007, might drop out of parliament next year. Polls show that just three in 100 Austrian voters plan to support the BZÖ in the upcoming national ballot. This would not be enough to surpass the four per cent hurdle.

Häupl – who once opposed plans of an inheritance tax – called for a “fair taxation system” in Austria. The SPÖ did not manage to make a tax on inheritances part of the latest tax and savings pact. The package was passed in parliament with the support of SPÖ and ÖVP members in February. Most of the measures became effective last month. Some more aspects of the disputed 26.5-billion Euro pact – which consists of 98 points – will be felt later this year. Sustainable effects on the public budget are expected for 2016.

SPÖ Salzburg chairwoman Gabi Burgstaller also expressed support for a tax reform. She said that assets “are still affected comparably little while the tax burden on labour is very high”. She said the federal taxation structure had to be changed also due to the rising car fuel prices. “I trust on the SPÖ to point out these aspects in the government,” the governor of Salzburg told the Kurier yesterday.

SPÖ Chancellor Werner Faymann told participants of the May Day March in his speech “that Austria had the highest unemployment rate when ÖVP and FPÖ formed a government coalition”. The SPÖ chief pointed out that the economy had not been in a crisis at that time. Austria had the lowest jobless rate in the European Union (EU) at 4.2 per cent in March, according to Eurostat. The agency said the Netherlands reached second place (4.9 per cent). Luxembourg came third with a share of 5.2 per cent, Eurostat announced.

Faymann especially focused on the FPÖ yesterday. The ex-SPÖ Vienna housing councillor accused the party’s chairman Heinz-Christian Strache of “spearing hatred” among people by accusing immigrants of being criminals. He also claimed that the FPÖ – which has, according to studies, good chances to win next year’s general election – was an epitome for corruption. “Politicians of that kind must not take governmental responsibilities,” Faymann concluded.