Der Standard has an interview today with Salzburg Governor (ÖVP) Wilfried Haslauer. He makes a lot of sense about the need for the ÖVP to change, has an amusing dig at Neos (another failed attempt to dismiss the Party), and highlights the problem reformist will have in changing the ÖVP.
For English readers the article can be read using Google translate without too many problems.
Haslauer, I think correctly, identifies one of the ÖVP’s main problems as “the temptation that we explain to people how they should live”. He goes on to call for more openness and tolerance saying that critical accommodation of diversity of lifestyles is one of the tasks of the programme discussion now started in the Party.
It’s difficult to see the ÖVP achieving this change in its DNA. While there are probably many in the Party who would agree with Haslauer, the party structure and the traditionalist/conservative wing of the ÖVP will undoubtedly block reform. If the programme was to become more open those same traditionalist forces would soon undermine implementation in national government.
Reading this article leaves me thinking that a split in the ÖVP is probably nearer than it ever has been. My guess is that at the end of a programme review the Party will have added a little ‘liberal window dressing’ to its programme but will in reality be even more conservative and proscriptive.
Oh yes and that Neos dig. It’s quite funny reading all the different labels other parties assign to Neos – they are generally way off the mark. Haslauer’s ‘bourgeois upper class’ really did make me laugh. I’ve met a few Neos members and supporters, they have been an interesting cross section of people. As for myself (while I became ‘middle class’ through education and work) this ‘kid from a working class estate’ has never before been called ‘upper class’. That really did bring a smile to my face.
Neos opponents are going to have to come up with better descriptions if they want to seriously halt the rise of the liberal pink wave.