The leadership of the Social Democrats is demonstratively scattering optimism at the beginning of the year. At a closed-door meeting in Klagenfurt, the SPÖ presidium again devoted itself on Thursday to specific issues such as inflation, education, health and care.
The venue for the meeting was probably not chosen at random, since Carinthia is holding a state parliamentary election on March 5. Under the motto “Social Policy for Austria”, the presidium has been discussing key challenges and tasks since Wednesday. At the invitation of SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner, migration expert Gerald Knaus, author and chairman of the think tank “European Stability Initiative – ESI”, gave a presentation on migration and flight in Europe.
In any case, more restrictive approaches to asylum were probably not discussed in detail at the retreat – after all, Doskozil has no longer been a member of the Presidency since 2021 at his own request. The appeal made by Michael Lindner, head of the SPÖ in Upper Austria, on ZiB Nacht to reinstate the Burgenländer in the committees is therefore likely to remain rather ineffective. And Doskozil’s substantive supporter, Salzburg’s SP leader David Egger, was also not present in Klagenfurt for private reasons.
Apart from the long-running internal quarrels with Doskozil, the SPÖ has good reason to be optimistic about the new year. In Sunday polls, the party is doing well and is in a neck-and-neck race with the FPÖ for the strongest power in the National Council. The SPÖ emphasizes that this is due – at least not exclusively – to the weakness of the governing ÖVP party. Rather, the party is working consistently on putting issues in the foreground, which was pushed even further during the retreat.
At the end of the presidium meeting on Thursday, a joint press conference is planned with Rendi-Wagner and the provincial party chairmen and governors Peter Kaiser (Carinthia) and Michael Ludwig (Vienna). In the southernmost province, a state parliamentary election is due on March 5, in which Kaiser’s party is expected to do well despite predicted losses.