Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) is under pressure. The coalition with the Kickl-FPÖ is causing a stir and is a test for the federal level. In an interview with “Krone” editor Ida Metzger, the governor of Lower Austria justifies her step.
Horror reigns over the ÖVP’s coalition with the Kickl-FPÖ in Lower Austria. Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner took a lot of beating: the International Auschwitz Committee criticized her for making rights socially acceptable. The Corona Fund with 30 million euros is also seen as kneeling for the blue one.
“crown”: The coalition with the FPÖ is a loss of image for the ÖVP. Lower Austria will now stop advertising the corona vaccination and set up a corona compensation fund. Is staying in power worth any price?
Johanna Mikl-Leitner: Now you have to make a decision. I recently read that the ÖVP should get off their high horse. And if we make compromises that some don’t like, it means the price is too high. Incidentally, we have also made many compromises to the demands of the SPÖ. But Sven Hergovich was not ready to back down from his side. And we didn’t want a one-armed government partner. And now seriously: the SPÖ has set requirements for conditions that are not even implemented in red countries. And that is what third place with 20 percent of the vote demands. The SPÖ wanted the negotiations to fail. Otherwise their strategy is incomprehensible. The behavior of the SPÖ is the real scandal.
Could you not have sought an agreement with the Greens and the NEOS? If nothing works, wouldn’t new elections have been better?
Cooperation with the Greens and NEOS is only possible in the state parliament. In Lower Austria and Upper Austria, voters directly determine which party has how many seats in the government. Greens and Neos have too few votes and therefore no seat in government. This means that the ÖVP, FPÖ and SPÖ must find a way to work together in the state government. The SPÖ has blocked – so there is now stable cooperation with the FPÖ. Call new elections because you don’t like the election results? That is inconsistent with my understanding of democracy.
There are 50 recognized vaccine injuries in Austria. The corona fines in Lower Austria amounted to 1.4 million euros. What do you need a corona fund for? Is this play money for farmers?
I see it as an opportunity to close the trenches. The ÖVP and the FPÖ are moving in the same direction here. But it is also clear that those who followed the rules must not be the dumbest. The refund of fines only applies to those laws that the Constitutional Court has repealed. I think that’s really fair. The fund aims to cover the damage of the pandemic – from Long Covid to other psychological damage.
Video: ÖVP-FPÖ pact concluded in Lower Austria
The corona vaccination is no longer being advertised. Is this concession to the Blues because of the farmers’ voting? Many farmers voted for the FPÖ and no longer for the ÖVP because of compulsory vaccination…
The divisions in society have been deepening for three years now. This is not limited to individual professional groups. The pandemic has shown that no one is 100 percent right all the time. Neither the experts, nor those who favored strict rules, nor the opponents. This estrangement must finally be resolved.
The Israeli religious community accuses the FPÖ-NÖ of bringing the right-wing fringe into the government. How can you govern with politicians who have made anti-Semitic statements?
I have been in close contact with the Jewish community for decades. The Jewish community also understands this decision, even if they are afraid to say it publicly. In any case, we are now on the test bench to prove ourselves here. And so do we – when I think of the Chabad Campus for Jewish Life, which was set up in Sooß Castle near Melk.
Is the Mikl-Kickl Coalition a Test Run for the Federal Government?
My contact person is Udo Landbauer and not Herbert Kickl. I didn’t say a word to Kickl during the negotiations. And now please let’s leave the church in the village. There have already been several ÖVP-FPÖ coalitions. There were also coalitions between SPÖ and FPÖ. And yes, there were always protests. But this is a democratically elected party. And no one can say today what will happen at the federal level in two years.
Have you spoken to former governor Erwin Proell about the coalition with the FPÖ?
He was informed of the status of the negotiations. And he shared the view that we should first negotiate with the SPÖ. Just like the need to negotiate with the FPÖ, as the SPÖ has left the race.
How much does it hurt you that you were not elected governor of the FPÖ?
I have had to experience many assaults and assaults. My personal feelings don’t matter. For me, the national interest trumps personal sensibilities.
There were many rumors that as governor of the ÖVP you would have to be replaced internally if you failed to form a coalition. Was that the reason for the many compromises? Did that put you under pressure?
It is now known that this has been spread by other parties. There has never been a discussion within the ÖVP – and to be honest I am very grateful for this great confidence in this difficult situation
Gottfried Waldhäusl is now the second president of the Landtag. In other words, he must call MPs to order if they use the wrong tone. Who should recognize the authority of Waldhäusl, who himself repeatedly causes scandal with his statements? Isn’t that a mockery?
He will have to use careful language to gain authority.
How did you and Udo Landbauer find a base after all the underhandedness?
It was a tough negotiation, but professional in tone. We managed to build a basic trust. With the Corona Fund, we have found a bridge to bridge the gaps in society.
I am Ida Scott, a journalist and content author with a passion for uncovering the truth. I have been writing professionally for Today Times Live since 2020 and specialize in political news. My career began when I was just 17; I had already developed a knack for research and an eye for detail which made me stand out from my peers.