Monthly Archives: July 2011

Good start


Congratulations to First Vienna who continued their good start to the season with a 1:0 home win last night, unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to go down and watch the match. Vienna are now second in the league with 7 points after three games:

http://www.laola1.tv/de/at/fussball/aut-erste-liga/die-highlights-vienna-tsv-hartberg/video/264-1683-56908.html

On a frustrating note Austria Wien began their season on Sunday with a 2:0 away defeat to Salzburg. Luckily opening games are rarely an indication of how the season will unfold.

Frustration abounds as prior longstanding commitment mean that I’m unable to get down to Klagenfurt today to see Leicester City’s friendly against Bursaspor. Nor will I be able to make their match against Valencia on Saturday.

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The Vienna romance continues


Last Friday H again stepped on to the First Vienna pitch, this time holding the hand of new signing Matthias Hattenberger. She and her friend L, who also accompanied one of the players, spent the game cheering the team and discussing the forthcoming trials for the girl’s team in September:

The game itself was an entertaining 4:2 win for First Vienna, who after the weekend games sit fourth in the league with 4 points from two games. A few images from the evening:

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Monarchist bid for power


Modern politics and a bit of history in this post.

Not really the new political force that has been talked about in the newspapers, here in Austria, over recent months. But it seems the monarchists are going to try once more to secure seats in the Austrian Parliament. I wonder how they think they could achieve their idea of a commonwealth of five former Habsburg countries.

http://www.austriantimes.at/news/General_News/2011-07-18/34993/Political_ambitions_over_Habsburg_hype

Interestingly, Charles, the last Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the October 1918, tried to establish a democratic monarchy in the ‘Austrian’ half of the Dual Monarchy’. This included Austrian and Slavs areas from Galicia through Bohemia and Moravia to Slovenia and Bosnia. His ‘Peoples Manifesto’ called for:

….’a federal state in which each racial component shall form its own state organisation in its territorial settlement…..

To those people on whose rights of self-determination the new empire will be built my call goes out to implement the great work through National Councils – made up of the parliamentary deputies of each nation – which shall represent the interests of the peoples with each other, and in contact with my government’.

I’ve reproduced the above extract of the ‘Peoples Manifesto’ from Gordon Brook-Shepherd’s very readable history ‘The Austrians – A Thousand Year Odyssey’.

The move by Charles came much too late. But if the basic concept of self-determination, part of the ‘Wilsonian doctrine’, had been maintained by President Woodrow Wilson at the 1919 Paris Conference then the borders of the first Austrian Republic would have looked rather different and so might the history that followed.

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More bad news for coalition parties, but is the far right really doing better?


In this post I take a look at the trends in the opinion polls and suggest that the Greens are the unnoticed story of Austrian politics in 2011. I also make some guesses about which parties are most threaten by other players in the political landscape. See if you agree. If not start writing.

The IMAS poll in yesterday’s der Standard had a figure of only 20% satisfied with the performance of the Coalition whilst 49% and 30% are unhappy or undecided respectively. The article highlights that these are the third worst figures for a government since April 1987 and it also notes that a majority of those supporting each of the Coalition parties are dissatisfied with their performance.

http://derstandard.at/1310511316332/Umfrage-Jeder-zweite-Oesterreicher-gibt-Regierung-ein-Nicht-Genuegend

Since late 2010 the opinion poll rating for neither of the Coalition parties (SPÖ and ÖVP) has managed to secure a percentage share of 30% or more. In the above article the IMAS poll has the current party standings as:

SPÖ 27%; ÖVP 24%; FPÖ 24%; the Greens 14%; BZÖ 6%

The big headline winner in 2011 has been Austria’s traditional third party, the far right, FPÖ. This year it has been polling between 29% and 23% compared with a general election result in 2008 of 17.5%. However, the 2008 election also saw the ‘more moderate’ far right party, BZÖ, poll 10.7%, thus giving the combined ‘far right’ a total share of the vote of 28.2%. If you look at the trend in the polls this year (see links below) the movement up or down in the FPÖ vote generally mirrors the opposite movement in the BZÖ share of the vote.

The BZÖ seems to be able to damage the FPÖ but also sees it vote switch to other parties. This suggests that they may be benefiting when voters are reminded of the more extreme views of the FPÖ but they themselves are not gathering new votes from the coalition parties directly.

As the SPÖ vote has been stable at around the 28% mark this year, it would seem that the FPÖ may have reached the limit of its appeal to these voters. Whilst the more fluctuating fortunes of the ÖVP do not seem to be influencing (anymore) the FPÖ share of the vote. If this analysis is close to the mark and this trend continues, the FPÖ looks stuck and vulnerable to successful attacks on its ‘alternative image’ and reminders to voters of its more ‘extreme views’.

The good news is that the FPÖ’s opponents do seem to be able to mount successful challenges to the simplistic, popularist views of the FPÖ, whose own internal fighting (whenever they try to project a more moderate image) also helps. However, their opponents continually fail to sustain these attacks and the FPÖ (for now) does not appear to be heading for one of its traditional splits.

The more significant bad news is not the headline figure for the FPÖ, it’s that the combined ‘far right’ vote is around 4% points higher than the last time both the SPÖ and ÖVP were below 30% in the polls (2008). The question remains how soft is this predominantly protest vote?

The real ‘big headline story’, or more accurately speaking the interesting gradualist story, is the growth of the Green vote. Polling this year between 15% and 12%, compared to a general election result of 10.4%, their performance has gone mostly unnoticed (or understated when they are compared to recent results for the Greens in Germany). Since winning the battle in 1999 with the Liberals for fourth party status, the Greens have polled in general elections 7.4% (1999), 9.5% (2002), 11% (2006), and 10.4% (2008).

There is always voter movements between the parties which headline figures don’t show but the Greens seem to have gathered up the remaining Liberal vote and now seem to be benefiting from the decline in support for the conservative ÖVP. Again take a look at the polling trends this year, it’s the Green vote that primarily rises and fall in line with the opposite movements of the ÖVP.

So who can hurt who? My guesses:

Party Threats from: Notes
FPÖ BZÖ, SPÖ, and to a lesser extent the ÖVP (has problems in urban areas but still strong in rural strongholds) Also the FPÖ own internal  divides are a potential threat
SPÖ FPÖ, the Greens and less likely a revived ÖVP The FPÖ making new inroads into its working class strongholds. The Greens attracting a new wave of disappointed middle class left/centrist voters. A revived ‘more liberal’ ÖVP would potential attract centrist who have been supporting SPÖ (who have been replacing SPÖ voters lost to the FPÖ & the Greens).
ÖVP The Greens, SPÖ, BZÖ, the Liberals successfully re-entering the electoral
fray.
FPÖ already has taken it chunk of ÖVP vote. Others will fight over the ‘moderate/liberal’ element of remaining ÖVP vote.The ÖVPs attempts to ‘modernise’ could very well create further divisions and see the party split.
Greens SPÖ, a revived ÖVP, the Liberals successfully re-entering the electoral fray. A more overtly ‘left’ SPÖ could attract voters away especially if Greens try to build on appeal to ÖVP vote. ÖVP could recapture ‘moderate/liberal’ element of its vote. Even a moderate Liberal revival would predominantly draw votes away from the Greens.
BZÖ FPÖ, a revived ÖVP, the Liberals successfully re-entering the electoral fray.

The other factor that could significantly change the above relationships would be the talked about emergence of a new party. Given the unpopularity of the coalition and what appears to be a large protest element to the FPÖ vote, a new credible party could be bad news for all the current players.

http://neuwal.com/index.php/2011/07/10/wahlumfrage-osterreich-spo-20-ovp-24-fpo-27-grune-14-bzo-4-gallup-10-juli-2011/

http://neuwal.com/index.php/2011/06/23/wahlumfrage-osterreich-spo-28-ovp-26-fpo-23-gru-13-bzo-7-sonntagsfrage-imas-23-06-2011/

http://neuwal.com/index.php/2011/06/20/wahlumfrage-osterreich-spo-27-ovp-24-fpo-27-gru-15-bzo-4-sonntagsfrage-gallup-19-06-2011/

http://electionresources.org/at/

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Gaddafi and the far right?


Another curious story about the Austrian far rights Middle-East and North African links and policies. It will be interesting to see whether the allegation of Libyan money funding the FPÖ have any substance or not.

http://www.austriantimes.at/news/General_News/2011-07-18/34995/Strache_sends_emissary_to_Libya

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Looks like a jungle


Well as someone said to me “they look like a bit of a jungle” but on the other hand we are benefiting from the boxes, I installed in the garden earlier this year, when it comes to fresh vegetables on the table. The real credit goes to R who actually does all the gardening):

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Daughters to take their place


Press reports yesterday evening brought the excellent news that an alliance of women MP from the ÖVP. SPÖ and Greens had secured enough support within the various parties to ensure that the ‘daughters’ will find a place in the national anthem:

http://derstandard.at/1310511100861/Aenderung-der-Bundeshymne-Beschlossen-Toechter-kommen-in-Hymne

http://www.austriantimes.at/news/General_News/2011-07-13/34898/Anthem%27s_new_lyrics_to_acknowledge_women%27s_achievements

The behaviour of some male ÖVP MP’s towards their own female MP’s on this issue has not projected a particularly good image over the last week for a party trying to reposition itself as a modern relevant force. There is also an interesting interview in the der Standard, today, with Political Scientist Peter Filzmaier (Professor at the Department for Political Communication at Danube University Krems) in which, amongst other things, he highlights the conservative ÖVP’s voter gender imbalance and the problems the party has in attracting the support of 30 to 60 year old women in urban areas:

http://derstandard.at/1310511102104/OeVP-Auch-in-Unternehmen-kann-man-nicht-so-agieren

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