VIENNA Dec 4 Austrian conservative leader
Michael Spindelegger asked President Heinz Fischer on Wednesday
to help ease coalition talks with Social Democrats (SPO) that
show little sign of a breathrough more than two months after
The centre-right People's Party (OVP) has been pushing their
centre-left SPO partners to embrace ambitious measures to shore
up the euro zone country's finances and pension system after
both parties stumbled to historic lows in the vote.
But the SPO has shown little appetite for belt-tightening
that would arouse opposition in a country accustomed to high
Spindelegger told reporters after a meeting on Wednesday
that both the parties that have dominated post-war politics
needed to show flexibility to close what he called a 13 billion
euro ($18 billion) structural budget deficit.
He dismissed speculation he could end the talks and try to
form a centre-right government instead.
"I am not thinking of alternatives, rather of how we can...
finalise the talks with the SPO, but only when something moves.
At the moment we are far apart," he said.
Fischer did not comment on the meeting with Spindelegger,
but SPO negotiator Doris Bures said it was time for the OVP to
commit itself to forming a fresh coalition with the SPO, with
which it has governed since 2006.
"I urge the OVP to say, yes we take on responsibility for
the next five years, we set measures to have a stable budget but
we knock off these games and these blackmail attempts," she told
Both parties agree Austria needs to shake up its
underperforming education system and reduce its bloated
bureaucracy, she said; but she accused the OVP of trying to
slash the social safety net under the guise of reform.
Analysts still expect a deal to emerge eventually but the
political logjam has left major policy decisions in limbo, such
as what to do with ailing nationalised lender Hypo Alpe Adria
and how to craft the 2014 budget.
($1 = 0.7360 euros)
(Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Ralph Boulton)