The most recent ATV/Hajek poll found 39% of respondents (more than ever) saying they were undecided or won’t vote when asked which Austrian political party they would vote for in a general election. If 61% was to be the turnout for next year’s parliamentary election then this would represent a dramatic drop in participation since the 2008 general election in which 78.8% of the electorate voted.
Polling suggests that a majority (58%) of voters want the traditional parties to work better, whilst 15% say Austria needs a new party. The latter is similar to the finds of other research over the last few years.
For the newly emerged Pirates Party the research suggests that they have around 3% strong support with a further soft ‘maybe’ potential of 9%. This seems to fit with the recent range of results in Gallup Austria’s polling which specifically names the Pirates when asking about polling intentions.
If the next election has the potential to be one of low voter turnout then the traditional Parties will be tempted to focus (as they seem to have done increasingly in general elections) on mobilising their core vote rather than seeking to attract voters who are less likely to turnout on the day. One consequence of this is generally more negative campaigning, which in itself drives down turnout amongst floating/undecided voters.
The interesting question is ‘do any of the traditional Parties have the vision and the courage to run a genuinely positive campaign?’ The potential for one or more of the traditional Parties to break the logjam of Austrian politics is there but the risk of losing ground to their rivals seems to scare too many strategists.
As for the new movements, waiting in the wings, believing they can tap into the 39% and the floating voters within the remaining 61%. The clock is ticking. These are members of the electorate that need to be motivated not just on the question of who to vote for but also to actually bothering to vote. Turning up on the electoral field of play at the time of an election may make a momentary splash but it’s unlikely to create a wave to sweep you passed the established well organised Parties in the current political climate.
Well the reality then is likely to be that the ‘trad’s’ will be defensive and the ‘newies’ too late to make an impact. So with the exception of the BZÖ dropping out and the Pirates getting a few seats, the next Parliament is going in all likelihood to be elected on a low turnout with a three way split and the Greens in an honourable fourth place – in short no real change……..unless of course someone has some vision and courage (and political realism).
The ATV/Hajek poll:
SPÖ 30%, ÖVP 25%, FPÖ 25%, Greens 12%, BZO 5%, Others 3%