The Liberal Forum (LIF) has announced their intention to stand in the Austrian General Election due in 2013. Their attempt to re-enter the national parliament will be an uphill battle undertaken with few resources. In the last General Election LIF secured only 2.1%, well short of the 4% needed to gain seats in the national assembly.
The LIF are hoping that the current mood of dissatisfaction amongst voters, highlighted in opinion polls, will help them surpass the 4% hurdle. They appear to be focusing upon three areas that have been high on the wider political agenda: educational reform, administrative reform and comprehensive tax reform. Like others thay are also calling for changes to the democratic system.
At the begining of the last election campaign I found myself in seperate discussions with 3 potential LIF voters. Given the Party’s poll rating I was surprised to encounter this many potential supporters given the limits of my own social network. In each case they indicated that they were dissatisfied with the Parties in Parliament and attracted by their perceptions of LIF‘s social liberal message. After the election, in which LIF’s key message was centred on the economic agenda, I asked each how they has voted. None had supported LIF due in part to some negative publicity and in each case disappointment that the Party had not made more of an arguement for its social agenda. One voted Green, another ÖVP, and the third SPÖ.
A sample of the approach to isssues taken by LIF can be seen in the resolutions discussed at their recent Convention which focused on three issues: the free market; European integration; migration and asylum.
If the LIF were to make an impact in the next election then they, on past performance, are likely to draw a higher proportion of voter’s way from the Greens than from the other Parties.
The last two polls of February provided very different pictures as to the current standing of the Austrian Greens. In the first they saw their ratings jump 3 points to 16%. Although they have reached such a figure in the past, to be as high a 16% is a rarity for the Greens. But just as excitement was stirring in the environmental Party’s ranks a second poll was published suggesting that they were in fact back at the 13% mark and rather than advancing had fallen back one point in comparison to the previous survey.
The real news for the Greens was in additional polling data which showed voters giving them net positive scores in regard to issues of fairness and trust. The former being of particular importance in respect of the government’s new austerity package and the high number of voters who do not feel it shares the burden fairly. The latter issue of trust is high on the political agenda given the ongoing parliamentary investigations into political corruption.
The same polls also had mixed messages for the conservative ÖVP. In the first survey they were seen, by those polled, has having ‘won’ the arguments within the ruling Coalition regarding the contents of the austerity package. Their reward, however, was no change in their support and third place behind the far-Right FPÖ. But in the second poll they were up to 26% and sharing second spot with the FPÖ.
Rolling average of the polls
Below is my updated poll summary based upon the last five polls I’ve seen: