New SPÖ chief plans to make his party more democratic

12 Jun 2023

The new leader of the Social Democratic Party of Austria, the SPÖ, Andreas Babler, is due to meet Chancellor Karl Nehammer, chief of the ÖVP Austrian People's Party, in efforts to revitalise the party and make it more democratic.

With the majority of conservatives concentrating on migration policy, Babler stated he would "re-evaluate" the relationship with the"radical ÖVP."

Whilst the government focuses on migration policy reform in Brussels, with an initial deal reached last week in Luxembourg, the new head of the SPÖ is seemingly sceptical."The only thing that remains of fortresses are ruins", he commented. Ahead of the meeting with the Chancellor, Babler told Ö1 that he "must reckon with a clear, bold SPÖ policy. He must be prepared for a comeback of social democracy."

In the run-up to the upcoming elections in 2024, speculation is mounting of a coalition between the ÖVP and SPÖ, Euractiv reports.

The Social Democratic Party of Austria head moved from mayor to opposition leader following a"technical error" when the wrong candidate was unveiled as the new party leader. Babler's leadership bid, which was focused on a more confident SPÖ, led to thousands of people becoming members of the party.

The plan now is to make the party increasingly democratic. Whereas in the majority of European parties, members get a vote on its leadership, this is not the case with the SPÖ. As such, modifications to the party statute could result in members acquiring a vote on future government coalition treaties.

However, the party's most influential group, Vienna's SPÖ, is hesitant about bolstering intra-party democracy."There is a reason why the statute does not provide for a membership vote on personnel decisions," Barbara Novak, SPÖ secretary-general, told Presse am Sonntag.