Austria’s SPÖ struggles to move on beyond chaotic leadership vote

The Local Austria
The Local Austria - [email protected]
Austria’s SPÖ struggles to move on beyond chaotic leadership vote
SPÖ leader Andreas Babler is preparing a no confidence motion in the entire Austrian federal government. ((c) Andreas Babler)

After Austria’s Social Democrats admitted this week that they announced the wrong winner in their recent leadership election, the SPÖ is having public disagreements about what policies the party should stand for in the next election.


Progressive SPÖ leader Andreas Babler, mayor of Traiskirchen near Vienna, advocates a 32-hour work week, for example – something more and more Austrian companies are doing. But western Austrian Social Democrats insist that’s just Babler’s personal opinion, and they don’t agree with it becoming party policy.

It’s not the only policy on which party figures are butting heads.

Salzburg SPÖ head David Egger, who supported Babler’s rival Hans Peter Doskozil for leader, says he expects the progressive Babler to involve the more conservative Doskozil camp in policy decisions. With Doskozil having had about 46.5 percent of the leadership vote in the end, the contest was close.

Western Austrian Social Democrats, like Egger and Tyrol SPÖ leader Georg Dornauer, want tighter migration policies and a federal coalition with the center-right ÖVP following the next election.

Meanwhile, Babler is said to favour a “red-green-pink” coalition with the Greens and liberal NEOS party, as well as more progressive legislation like cannabis legalisation, a so-called “millionaire tax,” and a four-day work week.

The more conservative faction of the SPÖ remains largely opposed to these measures, signaling the Babler will have a lot of work ahead of him to reconcile the positions of his own party before facing the voters in autumn 2024 at the latest.

READ ALSO: More Austrian companies moving ahead with four-day work week in 2023


He’ll have work to do with those same voters as well.

According to a survey conducted by the Market Institute in Linz on behalf of the newspaper Der Standard, most of the electorate does not associate the party slogan “Social policy for Austria” with the SPÖ.

Respondents were asked which organisations or institutions they thought prioritise "social policy for Austria."

60 percent of respondents stated that the NGO Caritas fulfilled this role, including a high number of Green and SPÖ voters.

Among SPÖ supporters, the party motto is associated with Caritas to a similar extent as with the SPÖ itself. However, among all eligible voters, only 35 percent believe that the SPÖ stands for social policies, while 48 percent think that this does not apply to the SPÖ.

This survey result indicates that the SPÖ has not successfully generated sufficient attention for its main policy agenda in recent days and weeks. The association of "social policy for Austria" with Caritas instead of the SPÖ suggests a disconnect between the party's messaging and public perception.

READ ALSO: Austria’s SPÖ party announces Babler as leader after vote mix-up


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also