Salzburg’s head of state, Wilfried Haslauer, supports Chancellor Nehammer, but wants the ÖVP to set itself new moral rules. He also advocates a four-day work week.
In addition to Lower Austria and Carinthia, Salzburg will also elect a new state parliament at the beginning of 2023. Wilfried Haslauer (ÖVP) has been governor since June 2013. An election campaign in a difficult situation. Haslauer about Nehammer, loss of confidence, corona management and labor shortages.
„krone“: The government is in last place in the confidence index – behind the Chamber of Commerce, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, the House of Representatives and the Vereinte. Who is to blame? The bad media, the WKStA or maybe the ÖVP?
Wilfried Haslauer: It’s a general loss of confidence. Interest groups, church and political parties are equally affected. We are on our way to a two-thirds society. Two-thirds still support our system, a third is simply not interested anymore. Or they make their own attempts to explain the world. The pandemic has done its part. These people can hardly be reached via the traditional media anymore. It is a major political and social task to put the anchor back in the foundations.
This one unreachable third party also seems to have played a role in the suicide of doctor Lisa-Maria Kellermayr. No institution like the police or the medical association could help Kellermayr end the online hatred and threats. What needs to change there?
Dr. Kellermayr’s suicide really touched me deeply. Hate speech shrouded in the anonymity of the Internet is a worrying development that I strongly condemn. In Austria, we have already made legal progress on online hate in the past. We must build on this standard in the future and make people more aware of it.
On to Corona: The quarantine can, but does not have to be lifted for hospital staff. Salzburg will use infected staff who have no symptoms at the hospital. The vice president of the Medical Association, Harald Mayer, said that borders on physical harm. Aren’t you taking a risk with your eyes open?
I thought the statement from the vice president of the Medical Association was exaggerated. In Salzburg, the employees who are not sick but infected work in the administration with a mask – but not on the patient. The administration has absolutely no contact with patients.
The infected secretary can also talk to a doctor.
Yes, but she has to wear a mask. This is a proven protection.
So you don’t have a stomach ache?
The hospital itself has the greatest possible interest in safety.
Your famous sentence: “The virologists would like to lock us up” – how do you look back on the sentence, that was a good nine months ago…
The punishment was inappropriate in the situation. But he had a history. Before that, I said at the time, “I’m exaggerating now” to work out the dilemma of politics. I’m sorry it was awkward. It was an extremely heated situation. You know, a thoughtless sentence at the right time at the right hour can explode like a grenade.
This sentence caused a huge loss of image. Before that, they were considered elder statesmen and traded as short-term successors and possible chancellors. Then they wondered how you could pass for the Elder Statesman…
In any case, that had the effect that this cup passed me (laughs).
Apparently it really is a chalice. Chancellor Karl Nehammer has been confronted with transfer fee rumors since the weekend. The ÖVP is around 20 percent. How long will the provincial governors watch?
We’re in a situation we were in a short time ago, and now we’re thrown back into it. That is not pleasant. But I assume we can still catch up. Karl Nehammer has full confidence, I see no discussion about the chairman.
Don’t you find it annoying that Nehammer didn’t come to the festival?
No, actually the Chancellor almost never came. The chancellor has no active role, he does not give a speech. I would have been glad if Nehammer had come, but it’s okay if he doesn’t come.
Many commentators accuse Nehammer of not knowing his political concept. What does Karl Nehammer stand for as chancellor?
It should not be overlooked that he took over the ÖVP in a very critical situation. The first task is stabilization. He made a gentle correction. From this more center-right course more center-center-right – so a soft correction. This is the right way.
The ÖVP had some scandals, which in any case led to the resignation of Sebastian Kurz. Shouldn’t Karl Nehammer increase transparency and clarify the subject of ÖVP and corruption?
I think you have to differentiate. A complaint is not a conviction, but when made public it becomes a virtual conviction. A number of things have been discontinued. I do not rule out the possibility that there will be criminal consequences in one case or another. That’s a shame, it also needs to be cleaned up. This is not a question. One is: what is legal and what is illegal. The second is: what is legal and what is not yet done? So I think it’s okay if we reconsider our positions.
Does this mean you are in favor of new compliance rules for the ÖVP?
You know, that’s the problem with the rules. I think you need to be more sensitive – when you’re dealing with settings, when you’re dealing with power. And also in dealing with the possibility of exploiting legal matters.
Let’s talk inflation: Lower Austria and Carinthia have already taken many anti-inflationary measures. When will Salzburg start? So you hear little?
We have been active there for a long time. We have invested EUR 12 million, i.e. the full dividend of Salzburg AG, to support the housing allowance, we are spending a lot of money on fare support for public transport. You have to see: an annual ticket used to cost about 1400 euros, now it costs 365 euros. Those are real savings. And with regard to energy price support, it is important that the measures are properly coordinated. What came out of the summer council of ministers: The brake on the electricity price is coming. The energy suppliers must – no doubt – match that. But we are waiting for the federal government model.
In a tourist country like Salzburg, the lack of staff is a permanent problem. The baby boom generation is now retiring, how to fill the gap?
The reasons for this situation are very different. There is demographic change, combined with the fact that people no longer come from our main countries of origin, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia. Because the price difference is not that big anymore. So it no longer pays for them to come to us. In addition, there are very long training periods. Then there is another social phenomenon – I am still a child of the post-war generation, with a clear focus on work and work intensity, which is no longer the case for many people today. We will have to adapt to the fact that there must be working time models with a four-day work week. Where you work about 10 hours from Monday to Thursday. You should probably take a different route with overtime arrangements. And then Friday is free. But that is not possible in all sectors, that is also clear. And we have to make sure that we actually source the labor force we need from abroad in a targeted manner.
An important topic in the opening speeches of the Salzburg Festival was the war in Ukraine and the cohesion of Europe. Your party colleague Harald Mahrer gave an interview a few weeks ago in which he said that the EU imposed the sanctions wrongly. The EU would not have taken any precautions. Orban has also condemned the sanctions. Is Europe falling apart?
I support the clear positioning of the Federal President, which he also gave in his festival speech. Was a very clear positioning. The sanctions affect us more than was initially believed, that must be said very clearly. These are sacrifices for us too. But if the analysis is that Putin simply does not want peace, but continues his aggressive policies. Then there is no point in doing business with him, because he does not give up. This is the situation.
There is a decline in the population. What do you tell people that the sanctions aren’t really taking effect yet?
That is a very difficult question. You just unsubscribe. Then there is an eastern and a western part in Europe. And then says: we don’t give a shit what happens there. And we do our job? Look at the crises of the past 50 years. I don’t even want to worry about WWII. Vietnam war, two wars in Iraq, four wars in the Middle East, three wars in eight years, displacement, refugee wars, pandemics, floods, mudslides, Lehman Brothers, financial crises Ireland, Portugal, Greece before bankruptcy. All in all, we got it all done and came out stronger than before. And I wonder: why is there such a sense of the end of the world? Where is the drive and the conviction, the self-confidence: will we all come out stronger now? There you have to do a few things. We now have the opportunity to make substantial investments in sustainable energy. The process must be accelerated. We have a power plant project, we are in the tenth year of the procedure. It won’t work that way. And: I think we should be more decisive in these matters.