Ulrike Lunacek: An election which determines Austria’s political course

, by Translated by Sarah Robinson, Ulrike Lunacek

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

Ulrike Lunacek: An election which determines Austria's political course
Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-president of the European Parliament: ALDE Communication/ Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0-Lizenz

Before the legislative elections in Austria the leading candidates are writing exclusive guest contributions for The New Federalist. Ulrike Lunacek (Greens) has also submitted a contribution to The New Federalist.

When I meet people on the street or at events on my campaign trail throughout Austria, I am often asked: ‘Miss Lunacek, how are all these things going to work out?’ What will happen with the rents? What will happen with a united Europe? What will happen with the climate?

I don’t then say: Yes, as of tomorrow we’ll have affordable rents for everyone, or as of tomorrow we’ll stop the climate crisis on our own. But the Austrian people can trust in the fact that we, the Greens, will not turn a blind eye to the problems in our country or put them out of our minds with easy populist remedies. We are paying close attention, we know who in our society is suffering the most and we are proposing constructive solutions: from minimum wage to rent control. We want to implement these and many other proposals. And I am convinced that we will do well with these issues in the campaign and will garner widespread approval for them.

This legislative election will decide our political course: We don’t want our country to drift towards nationalism, societal antagonism and fear-mongering, with the right-wing being part of the government. People want solutions and not governing by fear. They demand policies that deal with their problems and deliver answers to their questions and concerns. We Greens have these answers.

And I am convinced that only a strong pro-European Austria will carry weight. We must actively go ahead with the European project precisely because not everything that comes from the EU is positive. We will not turn our backs on Europe’s most successful peace project, but rather we will work towards a social, democratic and ecological Europe.

Despite, or even because of all the crises, the EU is still the European people’s most ambitious project. At the same time, the EU is a global symbol of hope for all those who suffer under totalitarian regimes. On a continent with a bloody past, the EU is a sign of the freedom and unprecedented cooperation of the citizens of Europe. Yet these achievements cannot conceal the crises that threaten the social, economic and democratic strengthening of the EU. The member states are not in a position to find consistent, practical, solidary solutions. The obstinate insistence on austerity measures and on the non-dispersion of refugees has been increasingly poisoning collective unity, reinforcing injustice, sky-rocketing unemployment rates and undermining the promise of common prosperity and solidarity.

We Greens are advocating that Europe be seen as our common home, and that we defend this home against the new nationalistic and chauvinistic movements and their slogans of antagonism instead of cooperation - in Austria and elsewhere! This means expanding our rights and freedoms within the framework of the EU and not restricting them. This means demanding a green revolution and phasing out fossil fuels in view of climate change and the shortage of resources.

This means investing in our children, education, lasting businesses and high-value jobs. This means promoting solidarity with a real EU budget, redefining prosperity and putting an end to exclusion and poverty. This means helping those who are fleeing from war and poverty - in all member states and on the ground. And this means, if nothing else, vehemently taking action against corruption, bad government leadership and societally destructive tax evasion practices. And what holds true for Europe holds true par for par for Austria, or as we sum it up in our campaign posters: Europe begins in Austria.

We want to prevent Austria from getting a black eye. We want to succeed with content and to convince the voters of our policies for the future. We Greens are working towards cohesion in our society and will not give up, even if Kurz and Strache continue undeterred with their fear mongering. I am absolutely convinced that it is possible to energize our country positively, to actively include citizens’ ideas in political work. Together we can create a positive vision of Austria; that is my goal in this campaign. Sticking with it and unwaveringly working towards a positive Austria in a strong Europe - that is what I see as my purpose as a politician. That is Green!

Article translated by Sarah Robinson

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