Advertisement

Politics For Members

'Austria Plan': What are the chancellor's new plans for the country?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
'Austria Plan': What are the chancellor's new plans for the country?
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer addresses a press conference after the Migration Summit in Vienna on July 7, 2023. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer has laid out his plans for the country in his "Austria Plan" speech. From Austrian citizenship, taxes and new bonuses for full time workers, here's what the chancellor wants to do. But can he actually do it?

Advertisement

Chancellor Karl Nehammer presented his highly-anticipated Austria Plan in Wels on Friday afternoon, offering his comprehensive vision for the nation's future. The speech effectively kicks off the chancellor's election campaign, as he will be running with his centre-right ÖVP party in the parliamentary elections this autumn.

Nehammer spoke on many topics, from citizenship to taxes and plans to build a new national stadium. Here's what you need to know about the Kanzler plans for Austria.

Citizenship and immigration

The government plans to adopt a stricter stance on asylum seekers, enforcing more robust policies. 

Nehammer envisions diplomatic pressure on countries with negative asylum status, aiming to conclude further readmission agreements. 

The plan calls for establishing a "national cultural property law" to legally address symbols and behaviours contrary to "basic values" in Austria.

Nehammer also said he opposes any "party political experiments" with regards to Austrian citizenship, advocating against softening the criteria for naturalisation and voting rights for foreigners.

READ MORE: 'Danish model': What are Austria's strict plans to cut social benefits for foreigners?

Advertisement

Work, taxes and social benefits

Nehammer spoke about reducing taxes in Austria, aiming to ease the financial burden on citizens. 

The ÖVP leader also mentioned a long-standing demand of its party: that only those who have legally resided in Austria for five years should receive full social benefits. "Our claim is a social system for those who can't and not for those who don't want to", the speech goes.

Additionally, the government would hand out "benefits in kind" instead of cash benefits wherever possible - and welfare recipients - regardless of nationality - would be asked to do community service. 

The chancellor advocates allowing everyone to purchase cooperative apartments, promoting homeownership. The chancellor also suggests introducing grandparental leave, allowing grandparents to receive childcare allowance when taking childcare duties.

READ ALSO: How Austria could make it easier for skilled foreigners to get a work permit

The Austria plan also proposes introducing an annual full-time tax bonus by 2030, providing €1,000 for all full-time employees. The plan aims to make apprenticeships more international, allowing for the training of foreign skilled workers in Austria.

Nehammer firmly rejects the introduction of new wealth and inheritance taxes. The document also advocates automatic pension splitting on the first child's birth to facilitate shared family responsibilities.

READ MORE: What we know so far about Austria's new income tax plan

Advertisement

Culture and sports

The chancellor raised controversy by defending a ban on using "gendered language" in administration and universities. 

The plan proposes reimbursement of costs for defendants acquitted after lengthy legal proceedings. Nehammer calls for a clear name requirement on the Internet, emphasising the need to prevent an "identity-free space."

The plan suggests expanding the Klimaticket, Austria's yearly transport ticket that allows people to travel in all public transport in Austria for €3 a day. His plan would see the Klimaticket include a version for companies to use for business trips and also for tourists.

It also includes the construction of a new national stadium for the football team and the creation of a competence centre for e-athletes.

READ ALSO: How do Austrians elect their chancellor?

Advertisement

How likely are these proposals to become reality?

Nehammer's speech was made in front of his own party, ÖVP, and without the presence of any coalition members from the Green party. That says it all.

The chancellor's speech was much less a "plan for Austria", with actual proposals to be submitted to parliament and voted on in the coming month, than an election campaign paper with the proposals he would put forward during the coming months ahead of the elections. 

It has nothing to do with his current term, which is why there was no need to have representatives from the Green party - and why many of the proposals would not have been backed by their centre-left partners. Instead, it's about reiterating many of the ÖVP's long-standing positions and speaking to both their faithful voters and those who left the centre-right party and are now looking to vote for the FPÖ.

READ ALSO: Austria's 'super-election year': What will be decided and when?

An uncompromising stance on citizenship and migration, for example, are the policies aimed at bringing back their electorate that went to the far-right.

It's difficult to assess ahead of the elections how likely these proposals will become reality. In autumn, Austria votes in a new Parliament, which will ultimately decide on any new laws for the country. The FPÖ has a lead with just under a third of voting intentions. If there are enough votes and political will for Austria to have an FPÖ-ÖVP coalition in power, these proposals will likely be implemented if not court-challenged. 

Advertisement

Any other type of coalition would make many of these proposals less likely, particularly the more controversial ones. Other proposals that would be court-challenged, including creating stricter legislation for asylum seekers (Austria needs to follow international agreements on migration policies), would also be very unlikely to be formally brought forward. 

READ ALSO: Can the Austrian president refuse to appoint a far-right chancellor?

Finally, certain proposals, including the €1,000 bonus for full-time employees and tax cuts, would need to be financially laid out, and the chancellor didn't explain where he would get that money from.

More

Comments

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