Are voters protesting or looking for a new home?

The current average poll ratings below show all the parties in the current parliament losing support this year, with one exception. But none have much to cheer about and all should be worried by the current trends. Inaction, inept politics and corruption scandals are shaking the foundations of the political establishment more than ever.

Table 1: Average across five current opinion polls and change since January 2012

 Poll Average Now  Average Jan 2012  Change
SPO  26%  28.60%  -2.60%
OVP  22.20%  23.80%  -1.60%
FPO  20.40%  26.60%  -6.20%
Greens  14.80%  13.60%   1.20%
BZO  3.20%  4.80%  -1.60%
Team Stronach  10.00%  0.0%   10.00%
Others  3.40%  2.60%   0.80%


Why they should worry:

SPO: Having sat steady on 29%-30% in the polls for over a year they failed to effectively deal with their own alleged corruption scandal and managed to make themselves look as tainted as the centre-right & right-wing parties who have faced one serious scandal after another.

The results for the SPO have been touching the 25% in some polls and they risk losing support the Greens on one side and Team Stronach on the other.

OVP: The only good news is that their share of the vote has settled at the 21%-23% (in latter half of 2009 they were polling 31%-35%). But there seems little evidence that they can attract new support and they are vulnerable to losing liberal votes Neos and/or LIF as well as conservative learning voters to Team Stronach.

FPO: Their free fall in the polls has slowed following the SPO’s problems distracting attention away from the FPO’s scandals. However, a Party that was once bouncing between 24%-29% is now bouncing between 18%-23%. It faces competition from Team Stronach for the populist vote and has been losing chunks of its anti-establishment vote.

BZO: Up as high as 5% in one poll this week but regularly averaging 2% in most opinion polls. This week’s blip probably coming from the higher coverage they’ve received from defections by some of their MPs to Team Stronach and their Party conference. What little vote they have left seems likely to end up like their MPs with Team Stronach.

Greens: Only Party in the current parliament to see their poll ratings rise since January and the only Party not to be mired in scandal. The problem is that given the current fluidity in voter support and general dissatisfaction they ought to be doing even better. While they may gain from any further drop in the SPO vote they risk seeing a chunk of their liberal vote switching to the newly launched Neos. This new liberal grouping, if it can make an impact, will also mean the Greens to benefiting from any remaining liberal OVP voters switching to them (as has happened in the past).

Table 2: Average across five current opinion polls and change since General Election 2008

   Poll Average Now  General Election 2008  Change
SPO  26.00%  29.30%  -3.30%
OVP  22.20%  26.00%  -3.80%
FPO  20.40%  17.50%   2.90%
Greens  14.80%  10.40%   4.40%
BZO  3.20%  10.70%  -7.50%
Team Stronach  10.00%  0.00%   10.00%
Others  3.40%  6.10%  -2.70%


What about the new Parties?

Team Stronach: The party of the Austro-Canadian billionaire was launched last month and has successfully established itself at the 10% mark in the polls. Through defections it has now established itself in Parliament and if give formal ‘club status’ will benefit from State Party Funding and greater access to coverage in the media during next year’s elections.

With the financial clout and the high profile of Frank Stronach, ‘Team Stronach’ may be able to push on in the opinion polls. However, accusations of a ‘one man show’, ‘no real programme’, and ‘buying MPs’ seem to have stalled the initial bandwagon. Pre-launch the ‘party’ was polling between 6%-16%, currently 9%-11% – is this consolidation or the limit of Franks appeal?

The Austrian Pirates: Their ship seems to have already been sunk (sorry I just couldn’t resist). From polling as high as the mid-teens in the summer, they are now registering 2% consistently – 4% is the minimum required to secure seats in the Parliament.

Neos: Launching today on a liberal platform. They are aiming to secure 10% of the vote. There are others also trying to grab attention & they will need to be able to draw social & economic liberals together to make the impact they want.

What about the voters?

I’ve commented in this blog on a number of occasions about the fact that up to 20% of voters have said they would support a new Party. Team Stronach has made the first successful grab for that vote. But current trends in the polls strongly suggest that even more voters are willing to switch their support (either between the traditional Parties or the newcomers). It seems increasingly possible that the ‘winner’ of the 2013 election could secure less than 25% of the popular vote – a year ago the discussion was about having +30% to ensure first spot. Unless of course one or more Parties can make a convincing case to voters that they can do better but at present most are trying to hold on to what they’ve got.



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Filed under Austrian Politics, Politics

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