Opposition – club boss Lindner should follow Gerstorfer in SPÖ Upper Austria

There is now a change at the top of the Upper Austrian SPÖ at breakneck speed. SPÖ state party leader Birgit Gerstorfer and state director Georg Brockmeyer have to vacate their posts. The successor is to take over the SPÖ club chairman in the state parliament, Michael Lindner. The third president of the state parliament, Peter Binder, confirmed a report by the “Upper Austrian News” early on Tuesday afternoon. As the “Wiener Zeitung” in Linz explained, the SPÖ presidium was convened at short notice for today, Tuesday, instead of Monday to decide on the change.

With the 38-year-old Lindner, a change of generations takes place. The Mühlviertler should also immediately succeed Gerstorfer as SPÖ state councilor. His election at a state party conference is scheduled for June.

This is a good four months after the disappointing result for the SPÖ in the Upper Austrian state elections, with some time delay before the replacement at the top. In the election on September 26, 2021, as in 2015, the SPÖ only managed third place with less than 20 percent of the votes, behind the FPÖ, which had fallen by a long way, as the second force and the dominant state governor party ÖVP. The red state manager Georg Brockmeyer also has to go.

Why is the transfer now taking place almost like a raid? The immediate trigger for this was the state party’s vaccination campaign with sad children in the background. This led to open demands from trade union circles on Tuesday for Gerstorfer’s immediate resignation. This also settles old scores within the party. Because the state SPÖ had an analysis of the performance in the state elections made. In addition to calling for a more edgy demeanor, one of the consequences was to reduce the union’s influence in the party.

Frictions with the Linz SPÖ

The 58-year-old Gerstorfer, who has been at the head of the Upper Austrian SPÖ since 2016, has opened up a second front. Because there had already been disagreements with the strong Linz SPÖ under Mayor Klaus Luger, who also did not like the red vaccination campaign.

“If the Social Democracy needs me, I’m ready,” Lindner said through the SPÖ club’s office. However, he does not want to discuss personalities in the media, but in the committees.

The National Council member Dietmar Keck had previously called for the “immediate resignation” of the two. The background is said to be a vaccination campaign with sad children – but a study commissioned by the state party, which questions the role of the trade unions, also plays a role. It was the “second scandal within a few weeks,” said Keck, who is also chairman of the Linz section of voestalpine. Luger said on nachrichten.at that he had been in talks with leading Social Democrats in Upper Austria all morning and that the mood was clear.

Binder confirmed that “the stone started rolling” after the campaign presentation on Monday morning. It turned out that the advertising subjects had not been approved by any official. He spoke of Gerstorfer and Brockmeyer going it alone. Within a very short time, the two had twice violated the “customs of the party”. Therefore, the duo is no longer acceptable for Binder either.

Early Party Congress in June

Club chairman Lindner as the new party chairman is logical for him. “From the current perspective, he is the one who can count on the greatest support within the party.” The SPÖ Presidium is already meeting this Tuesday because of the personnel decision.

Binder “is annoyed and regrets” that he presented the campaign together with Brockmeyer on Monday, said Binder, who is also a health spokesman. He was asked on Friday whether he would present them at a press conference. He agreed without knowing the subject beforehand. When he saw them shortly before the press conference on Monday, he actually didn’t find them wearable either, he said. However, he assumed that it had been released by several people.

Gerstorfer already stated some time ago that she would retire in the medium term. But the time was still open. Lindner was repeatedly traded as her successor.

Analysis Angry Unionists

Most recently, an analysis commissioned by the party caused resentment because it also critically examined the relationship with the union. This is undoubtedly important for social democracy, but is always “obligated to a certain clientele”, often uncompromising and equipped with a “tendency to preserve vested rights,” says the paper. According to the recommendation, the fact that certain places on the list are always reserved for trade unionists must at least be discussed.

A vaccination campaign presented by Brockmeyer and Binder on Monday is likely to have given the last straw. It shows a sad child, under which one can read: “I don’t want to lose you. Get vaccinated. Now.” An SPÖ logo cannot be seen. Around 1,000 posters are to be posted throughout Upper Austria in the coming days, and the campaign will be run on social media and on the radio. One wants to take responsibility, so the reason for the action.

“That is not how it works”

The result was not only severe criticism from the FPÖ – the Mayor of Linz, Klaus Luger, also let it be known via “Heute” (Tuesday edition) that he considered the posters “unsuccessful”, Keck found even sharper words: “If you have children and linked to death, a limit has been crossed,” he said, “that doesn’t work at all”. Apart from the subject, it is not the task of the SPÖ to carry out a vaccination campaign, that is a matter for the responsible members of the government. (ett/apa)


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