Mortifying mix-up in SPÖ leadership contest

The new leader of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) is not Hans-Peter Doskozil, as announced on Saturday, but Andreas Babler. It was only by chance - because the ballot papers were recounted due to a missing vote - that the election committee discovered that the vote counts of the two candidates had been mixed up when they were transferred to an Excel spreadsheet. Shock and dismay in the press.

Open/close all quotes
Kurier (AT) /

Sadly not just satire

The chaos of the SPÖ leadership election makes a mockery of a party that wants to govern the country, Kurier criticises:

“How broken can a party be? What initially sounded like a satirical report on Monday afternoon is actually true. ... The party is 'joining forces' with the Social Democrats (Marxists?), who have so far acted mainly like a populist party, against the KPÖ and a potential new left-wing Party. But does Babler have what it takes to be chancellor? First of all, the SPÖ needs to get its own affairs in order. This level of chaos is not something a party that governs the country can afford. Perhaps Austria really is an operetta state.”

Die Presse (AT) /

A further loss of trust

Die Presse says the political damage goes beyond the SPÖ:

“This is not the 'Spaß [Fun] Party of Austria' that messed up, but the Social Democratic Party of Austria, one of the reliable pillars of the Second Republic. ... But in addition to this internal party chaos there is a far more serious problem: the progressive loss of confidence in established politics. Already called into question by the pandemic, the SPÖ's faux pas puts the political institutions under even more pressure. And opens the door for populists.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Babler is a big risk

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung points out that the new SPÖ leader has no experience as a politician at the national level:

“In fact the delegates failed to choose the logical candidate, the one who has governed Burgenland for four years and in 2020 became the only Social Democrat in recent history to celebrate a significant election victory [Hans Peter Doskozil]. The winner turned out to be Andreas Babler, who has generated enthusiasm among the party base over the last few weeks with his pointedly left-wing discourse and attracted thousands of new members to the party. ... With him, the party is taking a big risk. Babler's executive experience is limited to governing a small town with 19,000 inhabitants.”