Comrade Unloved won. Not just a little bit, he won a big win. The Burgenlander, also controversial in his own party, succeeded in winning the absolute majority for social democracy in the state elections on Sunday – for a party that is on the ground elsewhere. Is there a recipe for the comrades in the small federal state of how they can still win elections and overcome the crisis?
Doskozil was once the steadfast Burgenland policeman who became known during the refugee crisis in 2015 and was subsequently brought into the government by Werner Faymann as Minister of Defense. He was quickly considered a legal interpreter. As long as there was illegal immigration, no additional refugees were legally allowed to come to Austria, he said. He went a step further on the request for ex-Interior Minister Herbert Kickl's custody: It should apply to everyone, including Austrians. And IS terrorists should be deprived of citizenship, even if they are then stateless.
A provocation every week, that was what Doskozil's calculus seemed to look like. The fact that party leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner had already measured him down from the stage left the red bull cold. Doskozil replied in a guest commentary what he thought of the calls for intra-party unity: nothing.
Now Hans Peter Doskozil is the shining winner, and many believe that social democracy can learn to win again from him. That's right, but different than you think.
It is an often told story that the Burgenland SPÖ is a right-wing party. The issue of migration was only marginal in the election campaign. Doskozil had positioned himself so successfully over the years that he no longer had to say anything about it, because everyone knows that there is little difference between him and the ÖVP on this issue.
Doskozil, who embodies a strong brand in Burgenland, could confidently rely on his reputation as a guarantor of a strict border regime.
Therefore, he could choose to try success in another field. The SPÖ has been accused of lack of imagination for many years. The ideas were missing, active design became passive preservation. In Burgenland an attempt was made to break out of this lethargy. A care plan was presented, which provides for the nursing staff to be employed by the state administration. Agricultural subsidies were converted to organic farming, free kindergartens were introduced and a minimum wage of EUR 1700 was set up for everyone in the state service. The decisive factor for the huge victory was not the program, but the personality of the governor. He was able to convey believably that his heart was in the right social spot and that he also implemented what he had previously announced.