Thu May 22nd, 2008 at 05:08:01 AM EST
Conservatives in both Greece and Austria seem to have found a new rationale for privatizing public assets.
When Austria's finance minister announces plans to privatize the railways and build a social security fund with the proceeds...
Ah, Austria too? The Greek PM said words to the same effect (not limited to the railways). They're on a selling spree which they aim to portray as a way to keep the SS system out of trouble (they're meeting unexpected resistance too, but that's a diary of its own). Do EU governments have the same political advisors or what?
I'd very much appreciate information whether parties in other European countries also have explicitly linked privatisation with financing social services.
Below is a short summary of the plans of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the reactions of the other parties.
Are the 'reformists' becoming desperate, or just even more cynical? Diary promoted with minor edits by DoDo
| ||The first mention of a social security fund - or, as finance minister Wilhelm Molterer calls it, "Österreich-Fonds" [ = Austria Funds] - I could find was his May 15th "Rede zur Lage der Nation" styled after the American State of the Union speech.
The immediate background is a crisis in home care that has been in the news since before the elections in 2006. Former chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel's statement: "There is no nursing-crisis [Pflegenotstand]" was instrumental in the loss of popularity costing him his re-election. Public subsidies for home-care are far from high enough to cover the costs, and most people working in the home-care sector do so illegally.
In an interview with the national radio station Ö1 on May 17th, Molterer talked about what to privatise:
being Austria's biggest energy corporation.
That seems far less ambitious than initially thought, maybe partly caused by the solid parliamentary opposition.
Just so you know that despite all this talk about "core influence" he really believes in privatising, he has this to say:
|Privatisierungen sind ein taugliches und erfolgreiches Mittel. Sie machen Österreich stärker, Unternehmen erfolgreicher und schaffen Arbeitsplätze.||Privatisations are a suitable and successful means. They make Austria stronger, businesses more successful and create jobs.|
The Social Democrats (SPÖ), the bigger coalition partner in the current Grand Coalition government [see Almanax's diary], had the following to say:
|× SPÖ × Pflegefonds und Privatisierungen|| × × SPÖ Care funds and privatisation |
|Grundsätzlich sei die SPÖ für einen Pflegefonds, aber Molterer wolle den Fonds lediglich als "Vehikel für eine uralte konservative Forderung" verwenden - für Privatisierungen. Diese seien im Regierungsprogramm jedoch nicht vorgesehen "und werden mit der SPÖ auch nicht stattfinden", so Kalina. Wenn Molterer jetzt die Privatisierung der Bahn fordert, solle er nach Deutschland oder England blicken.||In principle, the SPÖ is for a care fund, but Molterer wants the fund only to use it as a "vehicle for an age-old conservative demand" - for privatisations. These are not included in the government program and will not take place with the SPÖ", Kalina said. If Molterer now calls for the privatisation of the railways, he should take a look towards Germany or England.|
I'm not sure if lumping together the UK and Germany helps his case. Not that his case needs all that much help.
The Greens decried Molterer's exploitation of the care crisis to sell off profitable assets.
The Freedom Party [far-right, Haider's former party] seems to be opposed and warned of threatening "Americanisation".
Only the BZÖ, a small (4%) offshoot of the Freedom Party [created by Haider and his supporters] seems to be in favour.
At least for now, the chances of further plundering of public assets under the guise of social security seem low.