ÖVP head pounces on PPÖ

People’s Party (ÖVP) Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger has branded the Pirate Party (PPÖ) as a “group of clowns”.

The foreign minister said in a speech at Hofburg Palace in Vienna yesterday (Mon) that the increasingly popular party consisted of “political clowns”. Some analysts think that the established parties still fail to realise the threat the PPÖ and other up and coming parties are posing to their leading positions.

The PPÖ, which has not yet competed on federal level, won one seat in last month’s Innsbruck city parliament election. The PPÖ bagged 3.8 per cent. The Social Democrats (SPÖ) of Innsbruck sustained a loss of around five per cent to 14.5 per cent while the ÖVP managed to come first. The conservative party won almost 22 per cent.

Spindelegger’s attack on the PPÖ – which is currently focusing on online issues such as free of charge downloads – comes just days after Josef Bucher, the head of the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), said the PPÖ featured “anarchists”. The opposition politician – whose party has the support of only two per cent in current polls – told newspaper Die Presse: “We have a different structure of voters.”

Spindelegger invited hundreds of ÖVP members and supporters of his party to Hofburg Palace to hear his visions for the future. The vice chancellor – who took over as chairman of the ÖVP one year ago – said there must be a reduction of bureaucratic barriers for Austrian companies. He also called for a tax reform for families. The BZÖ and the parliament’s other opposition parties, the Greens and the Freedom Party (FPÖ), are expected to point out that the ÖVP missed many chances to do so itself. The party is part of the government since 1986.

Spindelegger also criticised the SPÖ. He said the party of Chancellor Werner Faymann – whose recent web 2.0 campaign flopped terribly – “is afraid of the future”. SPÖ officials have accused the ÖVP of the same in the past months due to its blockade of educational reforms and a change of the army’s structure.

SPÖ Education Minister Claudia Schmied wants to create one compulsory school system for all children to give everyone the same chances to succeed. The teachers’ council and the ÖVP are against most of the main aspects of her plans.

SPÖ Defence Minister Norbert Darabos wants to hold a referendum about the Austrian conscription system next year. Darabos backed the current model for years before making a controversial U-turn in 2010 – a move which tempted political rivals to demand his resignation for being a threat to Austria’s security. The ÖVP is against turning the Austrian military into a fully-professional troop. It has suggested the introduction of a new service under which young Austrians could choose between serving in the army for six months or in social institutions. A similar system is in effect at the moment.

Spindelegger has an approval rate of 16 per cent, according to a Karmasin poll. The agency found that 21 per cent of Austrians want Faymann to remain chancellor. Around 14 per cent hope that Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party (FPÖ) heads the next government. Only six per cent want Green Party chairwoman Eva Glawischnig to become the first female chief of the federal government.