Following a historic result in September's national election, earning 14% of the vote, Austria's Green Party leader Werner Kogler emphasised that his party would enter government negotiations as soon as possible and as long as necessary. Three months later, having made a breakthrough in key areas like environmental and climate protection, transparency, control and freedom of information, and social security, delegates attending the Austria's Green Party congress on Saturday voted overwhelmingly to join a new government led by conservative Sebastian Kurz. 246 of 264 delegates (93%) voted in favour of the coalition.
Speaking after the vote co-chairs Thomas Waitz and Evelyne Huytebroeck said:
"We, the European Greens, congratulate Die Grünen for voting in favour of entering a government coalition with the People's Party (ÖVP).
"This alliance has never been tried before at the national level in Austria. But instead of leaving space for a repetition of the disastrous centre right - far right coalition, which ended in the collapse of Kurz's previous coalition government with the Freedom Party (FPÖ) following the Ibiza-gate scandal, the Greens decided to build an ambitious Green and social project and enter talks with Kurz: to wield their influence on burning issues facing Austria like climate change, transparency, and the rule of law.
"The result of the negotiations is a government programme with clear Green influence: to become carbon-neutral in 2040 (a decade earlier than the European Union’s target); producing 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030; taxing aviation; cutting child poverty; increasing government transparency; and making public transport cheaper, to name a few.
"We congratulate the newly appointed Austrian Green ministers: Werner Kogler (vice-chancellor responsible for public services, art and culture, and sport); Leonore Gewessler (minister for climate protection, the environment, energy, mobility, innovation, and technology); Alma Zadic (minister for justice); Rudi Anschober (minister for social affairs, health care, and consumer protection); and Ulrike Lunacek (secretary of state in the vice-chancellor’s office).
"They join Green parties in Luxembourg, Sweden and Finland to currently hold ministerial positions, as a string of Green Wave victories swept Europe in recent months and years, proving that people realise that the only guarantee of more effective Green policies is to vote Green.
"The wildfires raging in Australia are proof that dangerous climate change is already here. The world is experiencing a climate emergency, and it needs leaders who can recognise that and act. And it needs voters to vote out fossil-fuelled politicians who are part of the problem and vote in climate champions who are willing to solve it.
"We wish the Austrian Greens every success in shaking up and renewing the country’s political consensus and setting an example to the rest of Europe on the need for a strong Green voice at the heart of the political debate."