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Pröll outpaces friends and foes in capability check

Austria’s longest-serving governor has been identified as the most capable one in the opinion of citizens.

A study published by magazine profil shows that 20 per cent of Austrians consider Erwin Pröll, the provincial governor of Lower Austria, as the best of all nine governors. The conservative politician became governor of Austria’s largest province 20 years ago. Some political commentators think his opinion is of greater value within the People’s Party (ÖVP) that the policies of party leader Michael Spindelegger or any other board member.

Gabi Burgstaller of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) comes second in the new poll carried out by Viennese public opinion research group Karmasin with 15 per cent. Burgstaller is the only female governor of the country. The governor of the province of Salzburg caused a stir earlier this month by suggesting to cut teachers’ holidays.

Burgstaller was criticised of acting in populist manner by teachers’ council leaders and opposition politicians since she issued her appeal a few days before talks between representatives of Austria’s secondary modern teachers and the government about an extensive reform of the country’s education sector.

Burgstaller said teachers "should have holidays of five weeks a year as everyone else". She criticised regulations which include a nine-week summer break. Burgstaller – who is seen as a possible successor of Werner Faymann as SPÖ boss and even chancellor – said lots of parents were kept from spending holidays together by the current restrictions as they must avoid leaving their kids unattended in July and August.

Josef Pühringer, the ÖVP governor of Upper Austria, takes third place in the Karmasin study. Only last month, another poll showed that Pühringer was the most trusted of all leading provincial and federal ÖVP politicians right now. OGM listed him ahead of Christoph Leitl, the president of the Austrian Economy Chamber (WKO) President Christoph Leitl, and Science Minister Karlheinz Töchterle. Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner made fourth place in OGM’s ÖVP trust index.

SPÖ Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl and Franz Voves are tied for fourth place in the new Karmasin investigation checking the capability of governors in the eyes of voters with eight per cent each. Voves heads the Styrian government. He masterminds a close political partnership with the ÖVP of Deputy Governor Hermann Schützenhöfer. The decision to tighten the bounds to the Styrian branch of the ÖVP has not been endorsed by all SPÖ Styria members.

Voves and Schützenhöfer agreed on a controversial reform and austerity pact which featured the close and merger of schools with low student figures and closer cooperation among towns and districts to cut costs of low-level bureaucracy. The Styrian SPÖ-ÖVP coalition leaders have also been attacked for slashing the province’s subsidies for many cultural institutions.

ÖVP Tyrol leader Günther Platter is considered as the most capable governor of the country by only three per cent. Burgenland’s SPÖ Governor Hans Niessl (two per cent), Gerhard Dörfler (one per cent) of the Carinthian Freedom Party (FPK) and Vorarlberg ÖVP chief Markus Wallner (one per cent) have even worse approval rates.

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