Nehammer elected ÖVP party leader

At the beginning, the successor to ex-Chancellor and ex-ÖVP boss Sebastian Kurz was greeted with a standing ovation. “So many in such a small room also means so many viruses, but now we don’t care anymore – nice that you’re here!” he called out to the participants at the beginning of the party conference. He then campaigned for his party leadership. “We are the first servants of this country, and with your help I will also become federal party chairman of the People’s Party,” he said.

The leaders of the ÖVP are traditionally given high results in their first election as chairman. Kurz was elected party leader in 2017 with 98.7 percent (when re-elected in 2021 he got 99.4 percent). The best result in the first election in the recent past was achieved by his predecessor and opponent Reinhold Mitterlehner in 2014 with 99.1 percent.

Encouraging SMS from Kurz

“I’m learning from you and with you, and we’ll take on these challenges together,” he said, urging the party’s cooperation, which – as he emphasized – is in its DNA. Right at the beginning he caused laughter because he said he had received an encouraging SMS from Kurz immediately before his speech – “don’t worry, we’ll publish it later”. You fought side by side, now you are faced with new tasks.

ÖVP federal party conference

Reuters/Lisa Leutner

Nehammer not only praised his own party, but also criticized the competition

Nehammer reported on stormy times, but even in rough storms we were all in the same boat. The opposition is fighting with all means: “There are a lot of attacks below the belt. Do you know why that is? Because they can’t do it on an equal footing.” But the headwind can also turn into a tailwind again, and every change also offers opportunities.

As such, Nehammer rated the recent reshuffle in the ÖVP government team triggered by the departure of Elisabeth Köstinger. He also emphasized that transparency and honest politics are important to the ÖVP. Corruption can be encountered anywhere, even in the Vatican one was not immune to it. He promised reforms, “we don’t need any hints from the left half of the Reich”. The Freedom of Information Act will also come, but they want to prevent the communities from being paralyzed by troublemakers.

Two major crises addressed

Nehammer then took the time to go into the ÖVP’s “foundation of values”. This is Christian-social, but one is also liberal. “Freedom is in our DNA,” said the federal party leader. In contrast to “the left”, people are not told how to live. He compared the attitude of his like-minded community to Saint Martin, who, according to legend, had helped a poor man. “He shared his mantle, not someone else’s,” because the latter, “that is socialism.”

Sebastian Kurz

APA/Georg Hochmuth

Ex-ÖVP boss Kurz was interviewed on stage by the ÖVP moderator

Then he spoke of the two major crises we are currently experiencing, namely the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression. He professed neutrality and underlined the need for Austria to be able to defend itself. “We need a strong army. Yes, there were omissions.” He rejected malice about his trips to Ukraine and Moscow: “It’s better to do something than to do nothing and just watch.”

Party Congress of the ÖVP

In Graz, Chancellor Karl Nehammer stood for election as federal party chairman of the ÖVP for the first time.

He promised a billion-euro transformation fund to get out of dependence on fossil fuels. There will also be other anti-inflation measures. During maintenance, he recalled the upcoming reform (“It’s better to start now than too late”) and praised the good relationship between club boss August Wöginger and his green counterpart Sigrid Maurer. When it came to migration, he stuck to the hard line he had taken under Kurz with EU external border protection, repatriation agreements and the European asylum system.

Kurz doesn’t want to give any advice

Before Nehammer’s speech, Kurz offensively backed them and praised the ÖVP federal party chairman as someone “who gives 100 percent in every task he takes on”. Kurz quickly made it clear that he considered his two decades in politics to be over. It was an unbelievable honor to win the 2017 elections and win the 2019 elections after the period of dominance of others.

ÖVP federal party conference

Reuters/Lisa Leutner

The ÖVP held its party conference on Saturday to elect Nehammer as chairman

“I wish with all my heart that the People’s Party will continue to be successful,” he said. He said nothing about his forced exit. He wished Nehammer not to lose his joy in politics. “I don’t give any advice, especially not publicly,” Kurz said.

Bowl was aggressive

Previously, ex-ÖVP federal party leader Wolfgang Bowl had brought out his attacking side and not only wished Nehammer good nerves, but also a “fighting team”. “We have to learn to fight again,” said the ex-Chancellor, “it’s called an election campaign, dear friends.” Right now a party is needed that upholds the concept of freedom.

ÖVP federal party conference

Reuters/Lisa Leutner

Short and bowl Nehammer scattered roses

There was much cheering from the almost 1,300 guests, 515 of whom were delegates entitled to vote.

Wöginger praised government work

These are turbulent times for the People’s Party, characterized by constant scandals and poor poll results. At the party conference in the Helmut List Hall, attempts were made to demonstrate unity and spread a good mood. The demonstrators in front of the hall could not dampen the mood of the officials. Numerous well-known faces were present, from members of the government to state governors and former party leaders.

ÖVP federal party conference

Reuters/Lisa Leutner

The former ÖVP boss Kurz handed over to his successor

ÖVP club chairman Wöginger broke a lance for turquoise-green – despite overcoming the crisis, some progress was made. For example, he listed the eco-social tax reform, the expansion of renewable energies and the care package. The coalition is now going into the second half, “and we will play it to the end,” he assured.

He had no kind words for the opposition – they work “with constant goofs in the hope that something will stick” and “with dishonest methods (…) in the hope that we will lose interest in politics”. With Nehammer you come back to “calmer waters”, Nehammer has “the rudder in his hand”. He invoked cohesion and unity as the basic values ​​of the People’s Party.

The opposition, in turn, found little pleasure in the party congress. SPÖ federal manager Christian Deutsch located perseverance slogans, denial of reality and lies, Nehammer lacks any connection to the people. FPÖ General Secretary Michael Schnedlitz expressed a similarly disparaging statement. The freestyle to federal party chairman “will have been Nehammer’s last electoral success”.

Leave a Comment