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2005-10-10

Election update: the countryside is not greening yet 

Second in the string of three Austrian regional elections this autumn, 240,000 inhabitants of the Burgenland-region yesterday gave an absolute majority to the SPÖ. The figures:

SPÖ 52,2% (+5,7)
ÖVP 36,3 (+1,0)
FPÖ 5,8 (-6,9)
Grüne 5,2 (-0,3)

Nowadays the FPÖ celebrates results like this, but the Greens had little to smile about. The largest town in Burgenland is the regional capital Eisenstadt, where 10,000 voters live. It is a flat, largely rural region, making the SPÖ's decades-long domination all the more remarkable [DE]. As for the Greens, there are several explanations [DE] for the stagnation, but from my point of view the most unsatisfactory aspect of this situation is that they still haven't found a formula for responding to the political interests of the mainstream of Austrian society outside of the major urban centers. The Greens may still do well in the Vienna-election on the 23rd of October (polls see them at 16-19%), but the conditions are not yet set for campaigning as an equal 'third force' in Austrian politics on a national level. After the demise of Haider's adventurers, that field should be wide open.

The task: to criticise both ÖVP and SPÖ without mercy whenever they deserve none, and to confront the electorate at each of these instances with better policy proposals that are not part of the legacy of one of the big two.

The difficulty: the relative dearth of original policies in the Green portfolio that are not only well-motivated and sound, but that also have a strong personal meaning for political outsiders. The current debate about a basic income model for Vienna is an example for how this can be achieved.

The potential solution: to make the policy formulation process faster and more profound by listening with an open ear and mind to international debates, including to scientific ones.

The challenge: how to do this as a movement that thrives on its radical internal democracy, where new policy proposals can survive only when they immediately find the approval of a large majority of activists at the bottom of the party hierarchy.

Sounds like an application field for social networking technology?


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