VIENNA – Have Austrian Greens made concessions on social issues?

The conservative party (“ÖVP”) and the Green party have agreed to form a government led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) which will be inaugurated on 7 January, exactly 100 days after the election.

But the government program has caused controversy since its presentation on Thursday, especially among Green supporters, as the Green party appears to have sacrificed some of its principles.

The program is green indeed: It includes a commitment to Austrian climate neutrality by 2040 through measures praised by NGOs and climate researchers. However, it also continues the former government’s (ÖVP/FPÖ) tough approach on many social issues, especially on migration and integration. Since the Greens used to heavily criticise the former government for its harshness against foreigners, observers now perceive this governmental program as a trade-off where the Greens made concessions on social issues in exchange for environmental policies. In particular, plans for the internment of suspected terrorists causes concern, as it is potentially unconstitutional.

Making matters worse for Green supporters, the actual scope of many environmental measures will depend on the generosity of an ÖVP finance minister. And since the program includes both tax breaks and a ban on new sovereign debt, analysts question whether the Greens will see their part of the program financed and realised to the satisfaction of their supporters.

In terms of ministries, the ÖVP secured finance, foreign affairs, home affairs, economy, agriculture, education, integration, labour and family. The Greens obtained infrastructure (which includes environment and energy), justice, social affairs, sports and civil service.

(Philipp Grüll |

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