It’s been a summer of scandals and they have taken a heavy toll on the opinion poll ratings of Austria’s main Far-Right party the FPÖ.
Even as recently as May this year the main political story here in Austria remained, for many political commentators, the potential of the FPÖ to become the largest party following the general election in 2013. However, as I’ve previously blogged, early summer polling was showing the FPÖ not challenging for first but fighting to retain second place in the opinion polls. Moreover, polling data was again highlighting to ‘softness’ of a significant percentage of their support.
Now, as the summer draws to a close, the FPÖ has slipped into third place behind the (conservative) ÖVP in my running average of the last five polls. Since January the FPÖ has slipped back 5.60% and the current trajectory is firmly downwards. The decline in support has been linked to a number of scandals which are likely to rumble on for some time.
But this decline in support for the FPÖ, it seem, is about to be compounded by the arrival on the political scene of a new Party, lead (and financed) by Austro-Canadian millionaire Frank Stronach. The emergence of such a Party has been the subject of discussion for some months but during August Stronach has announced that he does intend to take forward such an enterprise and it will be launched on the 24th September 2012. Since his declaration he has already secured support from three existing members of the current Parliament – two from the right and one from the left of the political divide.
Currently polling as high as 9% in one poll, this ‘Party-to-be’ has been picking up support from the pool of voters who have been telling pollsters for some time that they would give their vote to a new/other Party. But polls are also showing that the ‘Stronarch’ Party is likely to strip away 1 in 5 of those who supported the FPÖ at the last election & half of those who supported the BZÖ. The later is important as the rise in support for the FPÖ has in a significant part been due to voters abandoning the scandal ridden BZÖ. Thus depending upon how many have already switched (and if the new Party remains attractive after it has been launched and maps out much more fully its position) the FPÖ could be facing a further decline in support of between 5 & 10 percentage points. What happens to the Party (which has a history of splits) and how much more support would disappear as it lost its status as ‘main anti-establishment’ grouping is an interesting question.
Table 1: Average of last five opinion polls
|Note 1: Pirates only appeared separately in Gallup polls|
|Note 2: Stronach only apears in Gallup & Karmasin polls|
|Note 3: Pirates/Stronach incorporated into Others in above table until they appear in all polls|
|Polls Av Now||Jan-12||Change|