Sebastian Kurz was considered a miracle child of Austrian politics. However, his career did not last long. For buying surveys in office as finished. The question is whether what the Austrian daily Der Standard called “the beginning of a collective recovery” will happen in the coming months.
There are many perspectives from which to assess the political fate of the leader of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). Those who still support the Course consider him to be an exceptional talent that has been thwarted by the opposition of former coalition partners – the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and right-wing populists from the FPÖ.
The Social Democrats fell victim to former Foreign Minister Kurz in 2017 as he pushed for the end of a grand coalition in Vienna. Today’s FPÖ chairman Herbert Kickl never forgave Chancellor Kurz for ending cooperation with the “Haiders” after the Ibiza case saw the light of day.
Who is responsible for the Course case? Is it exclusively the incredible helplessness of a man who longed for power? Or should it be assumed that the entire political system in Austria is based on an unhealthy connection between power and the media?
At first glance, these are traditional explanations from the losers. However, shortly before he abdicated, the course presented itself with ecological tax reform, which was the first project that could profile itself as a progressive politician. From the perspective of his rivals, therefore, it was high time to prevent the career of the 35-year-old “child emperor at the head of Austria” so that his name would never again be associated with real political success.
Most Austrians welcomed the fact that Kurz had resigned. Although the special prosecutor’s office has not yet confirmed suspicions of corruption and misappropriation of money from the budget of the Minister of Finance in connection with manipulated surveys, on the basis of which the exchange rate in 2017 was to influence voters in its favor. But people are disappointed, above all, that they probably paid with their taxes for disinformation policy, even if they did not decide according to the polls.
But who is responsible in the Course case? Is it exclusively the incredible helplessness of a man who longed for power? Or should it be assumed that the entire political system in Austria is based on an unhealthy connection between power and the media?
After all, the problematic situation occurred at a time when the Kurzov team had not yet mastered the structures of executive power. The young Conservatives apparently took advantage of the unfortunate constellation that Christian Kern (SPÖ) was considered only a temporary post-Werner Faymann era chancellor and former Conservative finance minister Hans Jörg Schelling did not have a strong position in government.
It would therefore be too simplistic to impose everything only on the person of Sebastian Kurz. Of course, if he has committed a crime, he must be convicted. However, the debate on the relationship between politics and the media cannot be set aside. The Austrian state places about a third of advertising in the media, which in practice means enough opportunities to influence journalists in all respects. That is why it is not enough for Kurz to abdicate and President Alexander van der Bellen to apologize for his bad manners in politics.
Last but not least, these are the political values of the civic camp. In recent months, the Conservative Prime Ministers have again argued for the Course to remain in office. Recently, the ministers on behalf of the ÖVP announced that they would leave Kurz in the event of abdication. However, he nominated Alexander Schallenberg as his successor and the People’s Party will continue in government. Shortly after the course resigned, Vorarlberg’s Prime Minister Markus Wallner publicly considered excluding the former chancellor from the ÖVP.
The question is whether Kurz managed in a short time to create an intra-party system without a personal alternative, similar to Merkel’s CDU in Germany, or whether the general self-satisfaction of the Conservatives is based on their own arbitrariness. Both alternatives are problematic for regaining the trust of voters.