Heated debate about inflation and asylum – noe.ORF.at

The election on January 29 in Lower Austria will take place a year and a half before the next regular National Council election and is therefore considered a mood test for the federal government. The ÖVP is threatened with losing the absolute majority with which it has governed the state since 2003. “Especially the multiple crises and the associated consequences such as inflation and rising prices do not give any tailwind,” said ÖVP top candidate and state governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner in the TV discussion.

Despite the financial support, there is “a fear of a loss of prosperity”. The corruption scandals within the party are “unhelpful”, the election campaign is “characterized by attacks and attacks by competitors”, said Mikl-Leitner, who, as in the 2018 election campaign, emphasized “togetherness”. “We continue to try to bring all political parties together,” said the governor. It is important to prevent “blue-red”, she said.

Who will become governor?

SPÖ top candidate and state party leader Franz Schnabl emphasized that he wanted to become governor “because I am ready to take on responsibility”. FPÖ top candidate and state party leader Udo Landbauer also made this claim during the election campaign. However, Schnabl stated: “I would not elect Udo Landbauer as governor if he questions human rights.”

Landbauer, on the other hand, emphasized that he would not elect Mikl-Leitner as state governor “because she has proven for five years that she cannot do it right”. He is ready to speak to any party that supports the FPÖ issues. Mikl-Leitner’s tit-for-tat response followed: “I wouldn’t make farmers the governor of the state.” Their job is to reflect the will of the voters.

The top candidate of the Greens, Helga Krismer, joined the debate. Five years ago, Mikl-Leitner was not elected, “because it seemed that nothing was going to happen, especially on the issue of climate and modern democracy. And nothing happened,” she said. NEOS top candidate and state spokeswoman Indra Collini, on the other hand, announced that she wanted to support Mikl-Leitner. The question on January 29 is not who will be the governor, but how the country will continue.

Photo series with 6 pictures

Criticism of electricity price discount

According to the SORA survey, the topic that people currently see as the most important factor in their voting decision is inflation. In a comparison of the federal states, Lower Austria has distributed the most cost-of-living aids, as confirmed by the Economic Research Institute (WIFO) – including an electricity price discount, commuter aid and a heating cost subsidy.

However, what the ÖVP is doing at federal and state level is “too little, too late, too hesitant,” said SPÖ top candidate Schnabl. Above all, he criticized the fact that the aid was not graded socially. In the health sector, too, “people should pull out their wallets”. Mikl-Leitner named the electricity price discount as one of the most important measures – this was indeed graded socially.

State election 2023 on noe.ORF.at

All information and background reports on the state elections on January 29 can be found here here

NEOS candidate Collini described the country’s electricity price discount as a “waste of money”. The mountain of debt is getting bigger, the state government has spent more year after year than budgeted. “One has the feeling that the money has been abolished.” Green candidate Krismer, on the other hand, spoke of a “veritable crisis” in which “support” was needed. It was “shameful that everyone expressed their regret,” but no one was willing to “tackle the causes,” said Landbauer.

Tempo 100 on the Autobahn: “Stone Age” or “Future”

During the TV discussion, the activists from “Fridays for Future” could be heard again and again, who have been camping in front of the country house for four days and are committed to the importance of climate protection. Asked whether there should be tougher penalties for activists who stick to the streets, Landbauer said: “The climate activists are becoming more and more militant, but I’m not against peaceful demonstrations.”

Another point of discussion was whether a speed limit of 100 km/h should be prescribed on motorways. “I don’t want to go back to the Stone Age,” Landbauer said. Unlike a farmer, Collini did not see a “path to the Stone Age” but a “path to the future”. Greens spokeswoman Krismer was the only one of the participants in the discussion to speak out in favor of 100 km/h on the autobahn and referred to Tyrol, where this works on the Inntal autobahn.

Mikl-Leitner emphasized that he wanted to convince people “that we offer alternatives and motivate people to use public transport even more.” Schnabl argued that the SPÖ supports large road construction projects as follows: “Where it comes to safety, health and quality of life, you have to implement the project.”

ORF/Christian Öser

Climate activists have been camping in front of the country house in St. Pölten for days

Big differences on the subject of asylum

The dominant topic in the TV discussion and, according to the SORA survey, also one of the most important topics for the voting decision is asylum. The FPÖ speaks on their election posters of an “asylum chaos” and that 120,000 “illegals” would “storm the borders” each year, said Landbauer. That is not fair, while people in the country are struggling with a price explosion. Landbauer renewed his demand: “We have to turn off the magnet effect and set social benefits to zero.”

Krismer emphasized that it was important “to distribute the people who are with us well. We have committed ourselves to this in Europe.” Schnabl did not want to know about any directional dispute between the Burgenland governor Hans-Peter Doskozil and federal party leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner on the asylum issue. “If you need help, you get it. Anyone who does not comply with the rules has lost help and support options. ”But he did not want to “erect a fence around Lower Austria”.

The top candidates and the moderation duo in front of the discussion round

ORF/Christian Öser

The top candidates of the five parties running nationwide answered questions from ORF-Lower Austria editor-in-chief Benedikt Fuchs (4th from left) and radio-political journalist Julia Schmuck (3rd from right) on Thursday evening.

At NEOS there is nothing on the subject of asylum in the program for the state election campaign. That’s a federal issue, Collini said. “Right-wing agitation will not help us, just like left-wing daydreams.” Once again, she called for a pan-European solution in asylum policy. She described it as “shameful” that Lower Austria does not meet the quota for accommodating asylum seekers.

Mikl-Leitner stated that Lower Austria was in third place when it came to fulfilling quotas. Provincial Councilor Gottfried Waldhäusl (FPÖ) has “that well under control”. However, the asylum issue is not an issue for the state elections, but is at the federal and European level.

shipment notice

“Lower Austria state elections: discussion of the top candidates”; 26.1.2023

Discussion about media influence

The TV show also addressed allegations against the former editor-in-chief of ORF Lower Austria and current state director, Robert Ziegler, who is said to have influenced reporting in favor of the ÖVP. An ORF internal commission is currently investigating the allegations. Ziegler rejects the allegations.

“I have no influence on the reporting,” says Mikl-Leitner, “neither at the ORF nor anywhere else”. She spoke of an “internal intrigue within the ORF”. All five candidates ultimately spoke out against the provincial governor’s right to be heard when appointing the provincial director.

Analysis of the Lower Austria election discussion round

On Thursday, the top candidates in the state elections in Lower Austria met for an “elephant round”. Political scientist Peter Filzmaier analyzes the most important statements of the discussion round and goes into the survey results.

Lower Austria elects a new state parliament on January 29th. Eight lists compete, five of them nationwide. 56 mandates in the state parliament are up for grabs. Five years ago, the ÖVP achieved an absolute majority with 29 seats, the SPÖ reached 13 and the FPÖ eight. Greens and NEOS each have three MPs – more on that in Exciting starting position before the state election (noe.ORF.at; 1.1.2023).

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