Hans Peter Doskozil loses the SPÖ chairmanship - they have miscounted. © ALEX HALADA/IMAGO
Hoppala: Verzählt. After 48 hours, Hans Peter Doskozil has lost the chairmanship of the Austrian Social Democrats. Local politician Andreas Babler, an avowed "Marxist", becomes party leader and probably candidate for chancellor.
Munich – The non-boss steps in front of the camera and struggles to keep his composure. Hans Peter Doskozil rows in the air with his left hand, searching for words. "We are in a very, very difficult hour," he says in his hoarse voice. "There will be enough malice. We have to put up with that." But: "This is the result." One will "not shake it".
What a moment: Austria's social democracy is experiencing one of the most curious and worst mishaps in its colorful history. At the weekend, a party congress elected a new chairman in a very close battle vote, the Burgenland governor Doskozil was proclaimed the winner, the defeated local politician Andreas Babler congratulated. But suddenly the party realizes: Oops, we miscounted, it was the other way around.
An "Excel spreadsheet" is to blame. Or so they say.
Half of Europe has been shaking with laughter since Monday afternoon (5 June). All of this is difficult to explain. The SPÖ officials try it as follows: The votes were counted correctly. The error occurred when the result was transferred to an Excel spreadsheet. The two columns were accidentally swapped. In any case, this was only discovered because there was an inconsistency in the result, one vote was missing, so the documents were checked.
So the result of the party congress: Doskozil 280 votes, Babler 317. This contradicts the primary election of the party members, in which Doskozil had won by a narrow margin. However, the primary election was not formally binding. Thus, the ill-fated electoral commission believes, the party congress does not have to be repeated. Doskozil doesn't demand that either. No wonder, he asks the party for unity, but does not express his full support for Babler. Instead, he announces that he will withdraw from federal politics altogether. "It can only get better," he says of his party.
Now a "Marxist" will lead the SPÖ
For Austria, this is more than just a small farce. The SPÖ leader is also a candidate for chancellor in the 2024 election. The Burgenlander Doskozil, who governs with an absolute majority – tough on migration policy, deep red on issues of social policy and the minimum wage – had been trusted to intercept the strengthened FPÖ.
Now this is the job of a newcomer at the federal level. Babler, a representative of the left wing and formerly active in the "Socialist Youth", is currently mayor of Traiskirchen. The 50-year-old describes himself as a "Marxist". He offends with his positions, including populist appearances. In recent weeks, a Babler video from 2020 surfaced in Austria, in which he called the EU "the most aggressive foreign policy military alliance that has ever existed." It is "worse than NATO". He then had to make it clear that he is not in favour of leaving the EU, but in favour of reform.
Babler does not perform triumphantly
Babler does not perform triumphantly in the early evening. "I would like to apologize from the bottom of my heart for the image that parts of our apparatus have given," he says curtly. The SPÖ must now be "given back pride and dignity".
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Fancy a voyage of discovery?
The SPÖ is now in a shambles, every movement crunches. The beautiful Austrian word "Pallawatsch" (confusion) is spread by an ORF presenter. Or, as former Chancellor Christian Kern tweeted after the fiasco: This is all "an impressive confirmation that you can't think it as stupid in politics as it comes after." (Christian Deutschländer)