Linz, Austria – On Monday, Youth of the European People’s Party (YEPP) was in Linz to follow around one of OVP’s youngest candidates for the upcoming elections this Sunday. Claudia Plakolm (24), a candidate running on the OVP list in Upper Austria for the national elections. Claudia was the youngest person elected to the Austrian parliament in 2017 and during her mandate, she served as the OVP spokesperson on Youth. Previous to entering politics at the age of 22, Plakolm studied Business Education at the JKU in Linz and worked in numerous roles across a variety of fields. She is the current Chairperson of the Junge ÖVP Oberösterreich. Besides her role in politics, Claudia plays the trombone and enjoys hiking in her spare time. 

Following Claudia around on a busy day of her campaign, we asked what her thoughts were on a few topics of the campaign. When asked about the importance of young people in politics and policy-making to help future generations, Claudia stated that there is a need to focus on young people and creating policies that will enable the next generation to thrive while ensuring a well balanced and fair system for society. 

Plakolm emphasised that: “We must ensure that young people are provided with education and skills that match the needs of today’s labour market.” She continued to explain that besides adapting education and skills to the present challenges, it is also essential  to ensure that our and future generations are not burdened by additional debts made today at their expense. “It is possible to make reforms without incurring new debts. That is exactly what we have shown in the last two years. For the first time in 60 years we are not incurring new debts in Austria.”

OVP has taken the initiative to provide a platform for young people to run as candidates. Claudia explained that:  “When Sebastian Kurz took over OVP, the party was struggling with internal conflicts that projected into mistrust and inability to attract new voters. Sebastian Kurz managed to change this by transforming and modernising the party in 2017.” OVP has endured a tough campaign since the collapse of the government in May. Claudia stated that: “We are currently in a tough situation as it was our government that fell due to the scandal that implied our coalition partner some months ago.” 

Touching on climate change, Plakolm spoke about the need to do more when it comes to protecting the environment: “Young people are in the streets, marching and demanding action and we must respond to these calls. Our environment concerns us all, the goal is to make Austria CO2 neutral by 2045”.

Claudia concluded: “It is crucial that young people are part of the discussion as it is their future that is being shaped by political decisions. I am very proud that OVP has over 170 young candidates running on the OVP lists across Austria giving my generation the voice it deserves.”

A new generation. A new People’s Party.