Monthly Archives: April 2013

Newts, Newts, Newts!


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Today was the moment! I built and developed the garden pond for the purpose of creating an additional habit for the local wildlife – its proved a success in attracting additional birds, mammals, and insects, as well as frogs and toads. But of all the creatures I’d hoped to see in and around the pond, number one on my list was Newts. It’s therefore been an exciting time this evening to finally discover, after seven years, that they have arrived.

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I’ve been able to confirm three adults so far but have the impression that there are more yet to be seen. Getting a picture of our new additions hasn’t proved easy and I suspect that it’s going to take some time to secure a blurred shot.

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National polls show Coalition consolidating but will they survive the next two State elections?


Comparison of Aprils national polls with those at the beginning of the year show the conservative ÖVP narrowing the gap on its Grand Coalition government partner the SPÖ (Social Democrats),  whose own poll ratings have remained virtually unchanged.

The (Far-Right)  FPÖ rating has dropped 2 points in the same period and 7.8 percentage points since January 2012.

Becalmed would be the best term to describe the poll performances of the remaining three Parties in the current parliament.

The only other notable trend has been the small but steady increase in Others, moving back towards the 6.1% figure at the last general election and despite the emergence of Team Stronach. If NEOS are able to continue to attract media coverage and/or the Austrian Pirates revive their fortunes then we may well see additional Parties being regularly listed by all polling companies and with growing percentage ratings.

Current average based upon last five polls:

SPÖ: 27.2%,  ÖVP: 24.6%,  FPÖ 18.8%,  Greens 13.6%,  Team Stronach: 9.8%,  BZÖ 2.0%,  Others 4.0%

Percentage variation across last five polls:

SPÖ: 27%-28%, ÖVP: 24%-25%, FPÖ 18%-19%, Greens 13%-14%, Team Stronach: 9%-10%, BZÖ 1%-4%

Polls from Salzburg and Tirol, where State elections will shortly be taking place, indicate that the results for the ÖVP, SPÖ, and FPÖ will not be providing good news headlines to boost their campaigns as we head towards the national election in September. If the polls are accurate the story of these State elections will be the advance of the Greens.

 

Sources:

Karmasin/profil 20-04-13
Gallup/oe24 19-04-13
IMAS/krone 06-04-13
Gallup/oe24 06-04-13
Karmasin/heute 04-04-13

 

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Who’s benefiting from the fall of the Far-Right FPÖ? No it’s not Uncle Frank!


With new polls added to my running average figures, it’s clear that the fall of Far-Right FPÖ is continuing with their poll rating now down to 18.6%. They have dropped 2.2% points since January 2013 and when compared to their average rating in January 2012 they have fallen 8 percentage points.

Current average based upon last five polls:

SPÖ: 26.6%, ÖVP: 24.2%, FPÖ 18.6%, Greens 13.8%, Team Stronach: 10.8%, BZÖ 2.6%, Others 3.4%

Percentage variation across last five polls:

SPÖ: 26%-27%, ÖVP: 23%-25%, FPÖ 18%-19%, Greens 13%-14%, Team Stronach: 9%-15%, BZÖ 1%-4%

So it’s the Stronach effect?

State elections in Lower Austria and Kärnten, combined with polling data, show that as well as attracting previous non-voters Team Stronach (TS) gains more support from former FPÖ supporters than it does from any other party. This suggests that TS both threatens any FPÖ recovery (by now being the main beneficiary of the protest vote) and hastening their further decline (tempting more of the anti-establishment vote away from the FPÖ).

It’s this evidence that has got many of the papers talking about the damage TS is doing to the FPÖ. But look at the average figures since the Austro-Canadian billionaire businessman, Frank Stronach, founded Team Stronach at the end of September 2012:

Party

Sept ’12 Average

Jan’13 Average

Average Now

Diff Sept to Now

Team Stronach

11%

10.6%

10.8%

-0.2%

FPÖ

20%

20.8%

18.6%

-1.4%

So who is benefiting from FPÖ vs Stronach?

Currently the main beneficiary of the decline of the FPÖ and their battle for survival with TS has been the ÖVP (conservatives):

Party

Sept ’12 Average

Jan’13 Average

Average Now

Diff Sept to Now

Team Stronach

11%

10.6%

10.8%

-0.2%

FPÖ

20%

20.8%

18.6%

-1.4%

ÖVP

22.2%

22.8%

24.2%

2%

I suspect that by the time of the General Election it will be TS that have most benefited from a continued decline of the FPÖ but it hasn’t happened yet. As for the ÖVP the addition of more right learning votes may help their vote share hold up if more liberal ÖVP switch to NEOS or the Greens – either of which is a real possibility.

And what’s been happening to the others since the arrival of Uncle Frank?

Party

Sept ’12 Average

Jan’13 Average

Average Now

Diff Sept to Now

SPÖ

27%

27%

26.6%

-0.4%

Greens

13.6%

14%

13.8%

+0.2%

BZÖ

3%

1.6%

2.6%

-0.4%

Others

3.2%

3.2%

3.4%

+0.2%

Sources: IMAS/krone 06-04-13
Gallup/oe24 06-04-13
Karmasin/heute 04-04-13
Market/Standard 02-04-13
Hajek/ATV 31-03-13

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Far-Right FPÖ continues its decline while new politics rises in Austria


Two national opinion polls in recent days have shown that the steady decline of the (Far-Right) FPÖ continues, with the Party now dropping below the 20% mark. Comparing the average figure from the most recent 5 polls with those at the beginning of January the FPÖ has lost 1.4 percentage points. Look back 15 months and support dropped by -7.2. Both these figures are a higher loss than any other party. Polls for the forthcoming State elections in Tirol and Salzburg do not suggest that any significant boost will come in either State as the FPÖ appears to be flat-lining.

Market poll:

SPÖ: 26%, ÖVP: 24%, FPÖ: 19%, Greens: 14%, TS: 10%, BZÖ 4%, Others: 3%

Austria Trends poll:

SPÖ: 26%, ÖVP: 23%, FPÖ: 18%, TS: 15%, Greens: 13%, BZÖ 2%, Others: 3%

Current average based upon last five polls:

SPÖ: 27.0%, ÖVP: 24.0%, FPÖ 19.4%, Greens 13.4%, Team Stronach: 10.6%, BZÖ 2.2%, Others 3.4%

Percentage variation across last five polls:

SPÖ: 26%-28%, ÖVP: 23%-25%, FPÖ 18%-20%, Greens 13%-14%, Team Stronach: 9%-15%, BZÖ 1%-4%

Not yet the Stronach affect

State elections in Lower Austria and Kärnten, combined with polling data, indicate that Team Stronach (TS) has supplanted the FPÖ as the ‘party of protest’. This places a significant hurdle in the way of an FPÖ recovery but the full threat of TS may yet to be fully felt. When the Austro-Canadian, billionaire businessman, Frank Stronach founded his party back in September 2012 its initial average ratings were slightly higher than they are now at 11%. The TS poll ratings are currently the most volatile of all the Parties but their higher ratings are moving up and they have the potential to damage the declining FPÖ move than other Parties.

Will the next government be a Kenyan coalition?

The current governing Grand Coalition of SPÖ (Social Democrats) and ÖVP (conservatives) is presently securing an average polling rating of 51% (down -4.3 points on the last General Election). While enough to form the next government (general election at the end of September 2013) a stable administration would suggest they will need to look for a third partner.

Following the Sate election in Kärnten the country now has its first three party coalition. The new ‘Kenyan’ administration (Red, Black, and Green) has been formed by the SPÖ, ÖVP, and the Greens. Commentators are suggesting that this State governing coalition may be the forerunner of Austria’s national government. Publicly the SPÖ and ÖVP both talk about wanting to maintain two party government – either with each other or another partner.

The Greens too are talking of two party government after September, in their mind a Red/Green administration – an outcome favoured by some in the SPÖ based upon the experience of the ruling SPÖ/Green administration in the State of Vienna. Unfortunately for those in favour of this the arithmetic just does not currently work. The polls show combined SPÖ/Green vote averaging 40.4% currently, that’s 0.7 points higher than at the last election. The SPÖ average of 27% is the same as January 2013, down 1.6% points since January 2012, and -2.3% when compared to the last General Election in 2008. Meanwhile the Greens are -0.6% points since January, that’s a further 0.4% average drop compared to January 2012. However, their current rating is 3% higher than their election result of 10.4% in 2008. In short, with six month to go before the general election, a SPÖ/Green government looks a remote option.

Green hopes and threats

The Greens hopes may rest on their performances in the two forthcoming State elections – Tirol & Salzburg. Polls suggest that while in Tirol the Party might nudge its vote up a little, while in Salzburg it may be able to achieve a significant advance. Given their recent success in Kärnten, further success in Salzburg could give the Party momentum going into the general election campaign.

Even this success may not be enough to allow the Greens breakthrough the 15% barrier and reach the promised land of +20%. Internal struggles and organisational weaknesses outside of Vienna pose real difficulties. Should they shift Left to try and take support from the SPÖ (as many activists seem to want) or try to widen their base by appealing across the centre left and right? These questions appear to remain unresolved in election year.

The Greens also face the possibility of seeing their share of the vote decline if one or both of two of Austria’s new parties make an impact at the General Election:

Austrian Pirates – The Pirates have been unable to make an impact in the recent State elections and they are polling 1% in polls in which they are specifically named. However, the Pirates have three hopes for success. Firstly, the Germany General Election is also taking place next September, if their sister Party can generate positive headlines this could help raise the Austrian Pirates profile. Secondly, a ‘Pirate’ issue (internet freedom etc) could once again make the headlines and in so doing make their message more relevant to voters. Thirdly, the Party appears to have resolved its internal difficulties of last year and will go into the campaign as a united force.

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Were the Pirates to revive their fortunes they would draw at least part of their support from the Greens vote. I wonder if the Greens remain sufficiently concerned about the Pirates. I’m reliably informed that Greens regularly attended open Pirate meetings last year in order to keep an eye on them.

 

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NEOS – Potentially the bigger threat to the Greens comes from NEOS the new Liberal Centrist Party which has now formed a joint election platform with the Liberal Forum (LIF). NEOS has already score a success with the defection  from the Greens of four leading members of Green Economy (business wing of the Greens). The Party represents a major threat to the Greens whose voter base contains a significant proportion of Social Liberals and centrists, as well as the potential to attract liberal voters currently supporting the ÖVP and to a lesser degree the SPÖ. With an activist base drawn from former Greens, ÖVP, Liberals and others, the Party has a broad Centrist appeal and in the longer run may have the potential to eventually reach the 20% mark that escapes the Greens – for now the NEOS target of 10% would see the Greens drop back below their 2008 level.

 

 

Sources: Market/Standard 02-04-13
Hajek/ATV 31-03-13
Karmasin/profil 23-03-13
Gallup/oe24 16-03-13
Karmasin/heute 15-03-13

 

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