Tag Archives: Liberal

“Neos is also a wake-up call for the ÖVP” say Haslauer


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.

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Delight at efforts to build a new politics in Austria – ALDE encouragement for NEOS


Guy Verhofstadt, MEP, Leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, has voiced his support for NEOS, Austria’s new Liberal Centrist Party.

http://neos.eu/journal/mep-guy-verhofstadt-wuenscht-neos-viel-erfolg/

The Party has formed a joint election platform with the Liberal Forum (LIF) and together they will compete in the General Election in September under the NEOS banner.

https://viennalife.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/joint-election-platform-confirmed-for-liberal-minded-forces/

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More about NEOS:

https://viennalife.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/coming-home-why-liberals-in-austria-now-have-a-place-to-go/

https://viennalife.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/it-will-have-to-be-a-big-tent-hence-neos/

http://neos.eu/

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‘…it will have to be a Big Tent. Hence NEOS’


I’ve found myself having quite a few conversations recently with people about one of Austria’s newest political parties, Neos. Many of these chats have been in the coffeehouse (in keeping with the Viennese tradition of political discourse), in the pub or over dinner. Some, however, have been in my favourite public forum twitter.

One question that keeps arising is ‘What type of political party is Neos?’ In various interviews and articles the Party is described as drawing activists and support from the (conservative) ÖVP, the Greens, LIF (Liberal Forum). Its ‘pitch’ has also been described as a party for ‘homeless’ liberals, as well as other progressives and centrists.

As you can see from the picture below I was recently engaged in (another friendly) chat with @Vilinthril of the Austrian Pirates, where I disagreed with the idea that Neos was a ‘neoconservative’ party. To me Neos seem to include…

Both wings of the British Liberal Democrats, Social Greens, and Liberal Conservatives

The discussion was added too by @veitdengler (a Neos co-founder) who tweeted:

‘if we want a center party in Austria it will have to be a Big Tent. Hence #NEOS’

 

My comment with regard to the breadth of Neos membership/support was later retweeted by both @matstrolz (Neos party Leader) and @joseflentsch (Founding Board member of Neos). While retweets are not an automatic endorsement I rather assume that on this occasion they weren’t disagreeing with my impressions of their party.

One point I made to @Vilinthril was that if the Austrian Pirates see themselves on the progressive side of the political argument then energies ought to be put into building alliances and attacking the Right – there is plenty their to challenge. My point was added to by the @neos_eu twitter account:

 

Link to Neos website: http://neos.eu/

 

 

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Will the Greens leave behind their voters for Neos to scoop up?


Events in Germany have generated a few stories in the Austrian press in the last couple of days focusing on the position of the Greens in Austrian politics. The stimulus for these articles has been the election by the German Greens of two leaders, for next year’s federal elections, with a broad middle class appeal. The German Greens it seems are going after the CDU’s conservative voters rather than just seeking to secure left leaning support. (Reuters article)

This turn of events has lead to articles about the Austrian Greens and in particular this one caught my eye: Green: Vienna moves to the left, to the right Berlin. It an interesting idea, the Greens moving further to the left in Austrian politics and it might work for them, if that’s what they really intend.

The Austrian Greens, despite being the only party elected into the current Parliament that hasn’t faced one or more major scandals, have only increased their support to date by 4% and remain fourth in the polls. Last year they seemed to benefit from the decline in support for the conservative ÖVP but more recently their stronger poll ratings have coincided with a weakening of the SPÖ (Social Democrats). The latter are already in a longstanding battle with the far-Right FPÖ in their traditional working class areas and now face a further challenge from the new right-of-centre ‘Team Stronach’. With support dented by poorly handled scandal accusations and facing towards the challenge of Populists on the right, the SPÖ look vulnerable on their left flank. The temptation to push left and make real inroads may look highly tempting to the Greens in general and the more fundamentalist faction in particular.

But if the Greens did shift further to the left could they maintain their existing voter base while adding disillusioned traditional left-wing voters?

It is notable that the rise of the Green Party in general elections was mirrored by the decline of the LIF (Austrian Liberal Party). Many of these LIF voters switch to the Greens. I have already highlighted that the rise and fall in the opinion polls of the conservative ÖVP and the Greens last year often mirrored each other – liberal ÖVP voters switching. In short, the Greens are currently home to a mix of traditional Greens, left-Greens and social Liberal voters. A leftwards strategy that simply replaced these liberal & progressive voters with disillusioned leftists would be unlikely to reap dividends and I suspect would lead to a net loss of support.

Up until recently the Greens have had only the worry of losing liberal voters to the ‘not voting camp’. However, a new player has taken to the Austrian political field in the form of ‘Neos – the new Austria’. A party formed to provide a rallying point for homeless Liberals and other progressives, its founding members include former activists from the Greens, Liberals, and ÖVP. If it can overcome the challenges of not receiving the benefits of media access and state funding enjoyed by Parties already in the Parliament then Neos is likely to draw support away from the Greens – even more so if the latter really jumped further to the corporate left.

In an ideal world and looking at the alternatives on offer, seeing both the Greens and Neos well represented in the next Austrian parliament would creative a new dynamic to a system that many across the political spectrum think needs renewing.

Link:  http://neos.eu/

 

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Today a new liberal party takes to the stage


With a conference here in Vienna today, at the Urania, Neos will be the latest addition to the growing list of political parties lining up to compete in next year’s General Election in Austria.

In the run-up to today’s launch here is what the papers have been highlighting about ‘Neos – the new Austria’:

oe24.at produced a succinct summary of the Party’s place in the political spectrum: Neos see themselves as a liberal party. There are suggestions of possible co-operation with the Liberal Forum (LIF) and the Young Liberals (JuLis). The Party is particularly hoping to attract support from liberal voters who currently find a home with the Greens or ÖVP (conservatives). The Party’s leading figure, Matthias Strolz, was formerly involved with the ÖVP.

Die Presse also highlighted the Party as a new liberal grouping and mentioned reports of possible connections with both the Liberal Forum (LIF) and the Young Liberals (Julis). It also flagged up that the Party unlikely to find common ground with the other recent arrival, Team Stronach, which has taken up a position on the conservative right. The paper also highlights that Neos see themselves as an alternative for those who feel the traditional parties are resistant to reform and view the (traditional alternative) FPÖ as too extreme to support.

The Die Presse article points out that the new Party has emerged from recent citizens movements calling for democratic reforms: It also flags up policy areas already adopted by the new Party – no conscription, no to new property tax, see ESM as a ‘tragedy’ but would have agreed.

Kurier article interestingly doesn’t mention the word liberal but does mention ÖVP a number of times. The paper highlights that Neos wants to reduce State funding of parties by 75%, schools should have full budget and staffing autonomy, tax and contribution rates should be reduced.

The newspaper also focuses upon Neos’s political reform agenda including more direct democracy.

Kleine Zeitung’s short article picks up on the point that the founding convention comprises people from all sectors of society and Austrian states, with about half of those attending being self-employed. It also highlights the Party’s desire to expand the use of referendum, as well as to abolition provincial and territorial tax for the states.

Wiener Zeitung’s coverage puts emphasis on the new Party’s policies, highlighting: administrative reform; health care reform; more autonomy for schools; changes to taxation; democratic reforms.

The article also talks about the Party’s approach to politics. In the spring the Party programme will be subject internet based debate. Elections for candidates will follow the example of the French Socialists with the Board, party members and the public through primaries equally involved in creating the Party List (Austria has a regional list system for national elections).

Like some of the other papers, the article also highlights the Party’s aim of achieving 10% of the vote in next year’s General Election.

Links

Website: http://neos.eu/

Twitter: @neos_eu @matstrolz

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How many Liberal Parties can you have?


A liberal faction has split from the Austrian Pirates Party and formed a new party the Real Democrats Austria (RDO) . The split comes at a time when the Pirates have fallen in the polls from the low teens at the beginning of summer down to 2% in the latest (Gallup) poll out this week.

This latest addition to the growing number of new parties joining the Austrian political scene – I count at least five this year – describes themselves as:

  • Our policy direction is clearly socially liberal, liberal civic and sustainable. Liberal, in the very word form.

Later this month the Österreich Spricht  (Austria Speaks) citizens’ initiative will be launching a political party which will:

  •  Target ‘homeless Liberals’
  • Be a ‘liberal political party’
  • New party drawing in support from those with formerly ‘green, black, red and Liberal‘ backgrounds.
  • Believes it can secure 10% of the popular vote at next general election in 2013

Austria ready has a Liberal party, Liberal Forum (LIF) who are members of the ELDR. Not currently represented in the national parliament the Party:

  •  Will stand in the 2013 election either as a single party or part of a likeminded platform
  • Their party leader in answer to the question, during an interview with neuwal.com, of where the LIF stands on the political spectrum where 0 (right) and 10 (left) replied that people probably see them as 7 (left) but they’d like to be seen as more 5 (middle).

On the Obama v Romney question (see my blog post) the response was Obama.

We also have a fourth Liberal party, JuLis. This group of Young Liberals broke away from LIF back in 2009. They are:

  •  An independent political party and faction Austrian Students Union
  • They concentrate their efforts on Student politics
  • Although their core principles are a broad Liberal statement their emphasis on the free market would probably align them more within the ‘Orange Book’ wing of the Lib Dem’s in the UK.

So that’s at least four overtly ‘Liberal’ groupings, of various shades, competing for Liberal and progressive votes and none of them in the current national parliament of Austria. Within that parliament ‘Liberal’ voters have primarily given their support and/or lent their vote to the Greens (social Liberals) & the conservative ÖVP (economic Liberals) and to a lesser extent the Social Democrats – SPÖ (social Liberals) & right-wing BZÖ (economic Liberals). Polling suggests many of these voters might be willing to switch but it’s going to be a noisy, crowded market place.

Finally there is of course one other potentially ‘liberal vote’ seeking party about to be launched, the yet to be named party of Austro-Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach. He will have the money and the platform. The question remains is his Party to be a Liberal or Conservative learning grouping?

The neuwal.com site is running a series of summer interviews with representatives of many of Austria’s smaller parties. Interesting further reading here.

 

 

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So not Liberal then…but maybe a terminator?


The not yet launched party of Austro-Canadian millionaire Frank Stronach is up at 10% in this weekend’s Gallup Austria poll but when we see the Party’s programme, later this month, will it be a Liberal or Conservative leaning Party?

One clue seems to come from Frank Stronach’s reported choice for the American Presidential election – Mitt Romney. As you’d be hard pressed to find many Liberal’s in the current Republican Party it would suggest that the new Stronach Party may be a more Conservative rather than Liberal orientated addition to the Austrian Political spectrum.

It also seems that Frank would be interested in persuading the former Governor of California Arnie Schwarzenegger to join him and his new grouping – though he says he hasn’t yet spoken to him about the idea.

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