Austria’s far-right FPO has in the last year become well established in second place in Austrian national opinion polls. They have even, on occasion, topped some polls and journalists often talk of the possibility of them being the largest Party after the next general election.
That they have currently pushed the OVP into third place and are pressing the SPO for top spot in the polls is the story recent months. But if you were a strategist for the FPO you might be having some sleepless nights and wondering which of the other Parties will finally muster the clarity of ideas and message to bring down your House of Cards.
Why do I say this when an average of polls (see below) clear show the FPO ‘doing well’?
Average from five recent polls
Well, underneath these headline numbers there have been a few interesting polling figures about the public view of the FPO party leader, an individual who is always of more significance in such a ‘popularist’ party. Firstly, Gallup for Austria’s current political barometer results put Heinz-Christian Strache in last place in a list of senior political figures. His overall rating is now -44% (down 17%), with 63% giving him a negative rating and only 19% recording a positive view. In this second poll (ATV Austria Trends – December 2011) Strache comes last out of the five Party leaders on the question of trust in decision making. Even Bucher the leader of the BZO (more ‘moderate’ far-right), whose Party’s support has collapsed and transferred to the FPO, scores a percentage point higher than Strache.
To me polling evidence has long suggested that it’s the weaknesses of the two governing Coalition Parties (SPO – left of centre Social Democrats- & OVP – right of centre conservatives) that has allowed the FPO a relatively free ride up to second place. The questions remain which of the Parties – Coalition, Greens or a new Party – are going to be able to blow down this House of Cards or will one or both of the governing Parties help deliver the next election to the FPO by default. Equally, that FPO strategist might be starting to think new leader or even let’s split the Party – they’ve done it before.