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Austria’s centre-right at centre-left’s throat as far-right leads polls

8 months ago 34

Austria’s centre-right ÖVP party wants to topple the Social Democratic SPÖ, with a letter released by the conservative party’s secretary general highlighting some of the Social Democrats’ recent scandals ahead of next year’s election, in which the two traditionally strong parties lag behind the far-right FPÖ, which, according to the latest polls, is firmly in first place at around 30%.

With the SPÖ’s recent scandals involving some of its local politicians in ‘dirty property deals’ and the party struggling to adopt a clear position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is clear that the conservatives are trying to exploit a moment of perceived weakness.

“Dear Mr SPÖ party chief Andreas Babler,” starts a public letter released by Christian Stocker, the secretary-general of the conservatives.

In the letter, he accuses Babler – who only became leader this year and is trying to revive his party – of the two major scandals:

Babler has been under fire for months over allegations that SPÖ party members orchestrated property zoning in their favour. Stocker says the “promised transparency” on the allegations has not materialised.

In addition, Hamas’s attack on Israel and the renewed Middle East conflict have exposed internal divisions within the Social Democrats. The party’s youth wing in the state of Vorarlberg had issued statements defending the actions of Hamas.

Stocker says that Babler failed to condemn these actions, claiming that “those who remain silent are in agreement” – although the SPÖ is currently expelling youth members for their comments.

However, the conservatives’ comments did not go unnoticed.

“Instead of pointing the finger at others, the ÖVP must urgently address the dramatic turbulence within its own party,” said Sandra Breiteneder, Stocker’s SPÖ counterpart.

Following an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, it was “irresponsible” for the ÖVP to continue to govern several states alongside the FPÖ, she added.

(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | Euractiv.de)

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