In turbulent times, the People’s Party in Graz is currently trying to show unity: Chancellor Karl Nehammer has been officially elected leader and has not set the bar particularly high. He sees a result that is better than that of SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner, who had to settle for 75.3 percent. Observers expect around 95 percent approval. Before his freestyle, Nehammer will give a speech of about half an hour, his predecessor Sebastian Kurz, who has traveled from London, is expected on stage for an interview.
As the delegates arrived at noon, several dozen activists from the VGT protested against fully slatted floors in pigsties and from Fridays for Future on the access roads to the Helmut-List-Halle in Graz. “Whether it’s black or turquoise, you’re bad for the climate,” they told the participants of the party conference. On the building opposite the entrance, activists had also managed to put up an unflattering banner: “Welcome to the 40th Party Congress of Whores of the Rich!” It said, referring to published chats.
Also talk about Nehammers“difficult phase” planned
Nehammer, who was greeted with a standing ovation, wants to address in his speech not only the “difficult phase” of his party, but also the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, energy costs and the current wave of inflation. Shortly before 2 p.m., he opened the ÖVP party conference in a relaxed atmosphere, which would last almost three hours and will be broadcast live (see also the stream above). “So much in such a small space also means so many viruses, but now we don’t care – nice to have you here,” he shouted to the crowd.
After that, the Styrian governor Hermann Schützenhöfer, secretary-general Laura Sachslehner and club boss August Wöginger spoke. “This party conference is incredibly exciting (…). We all know it’s stormy. We are constantly monitored,” says Sachslehner. The opposition parties would never tire of cheating the ÖVP, but they are not impressed.
Nehammer’s predecessor, Kurz, is interviewed. He traveled from London for the party conference. Among the guests are Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner, Labor Minister Martin Kocher, Europe Minister Karoline Edtstadler and JPV President Claudia Plakolm.
Traditionally high approval for the first choice
At about 4 p.m., it will be determined how many party members will elect Nehammer as chairman. In the past, party leaders scored highly. Kurz was elected five years ago with 98.7 percent of the vote, in August 2021 even angry tongues escaped, North Korea sends her regards. There was almost 100 percent approval – exactly 99.4 percent – for the young former chancellor at the party conference.
Reinhold Mitterlehner achieved 99.1 percent in 2014. Michael Spindelegger (2011), Wilhelm Molterer (2007) and Wolfgang Bowl (1995) also scored more than 90 percent. Nehammer doesn’t have to worry about a presentable result – in their first election, ÖVP presidents generally get very high approval.
Fight with disastrous polls and turquoise shadows
The ÖVP is currently struggling with disastrous polls and turquoise shadows. What Nehammer no longer has to deal with beforehand is the restructuring of his government team: Elisabeth Köstinger and Margarete Schramböck resigned last week.