Eleven party lists stood in last Sundays (28th April 2013) election in Tirol and now with the postal votes added the full picture of political failure is revealed.
ÖVP (conservatives): The nominal winners last Sunday. The headlines were all about the ‘success’ of the ÖVP in retaining control of one of it strongholds, securing 39.35% and suffering only a 1.15% point drop in support. However, this result only looks good in comparison to dismal expectations – some of the polls in the weeks before the election were suggesting they could suffer an historical low of 33%.
Poll data indicates that the ÖVP’s victory was based primarily on the ability of its party organisation to get a higher proportion of its vote out in an election with a very low turnout.
On Sunday the ÖVP secured its lowest ever vote share in Tirol and benefited from the failure of the other ten parties to mobile an effective challenge.
Forward Tirol: One of those State parties described by observers as an ‘ÖVP breakaway’ secured a credible 9.54% in their first election campaign – making them the fourth largest party. However, not reaching double figures has left one of their leading members outside the State parliament unless one of their four new MP’s waives their mandate. Reports suggest this is unlikely and there is a real danger of this party ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’ and splitting.
Greens (Centre-left): Vote up by 1.86%, an additional seat in the parliament (5), topped the poll in the City of Innsbruck, and third largest party in Tirol. It all looks good for the Greens except that some polls during the campaign had them as high as 15%.
Tirol suggests that despite ÖVP weakness the Greens remain unable to make inroads outside urban areas and the State results once again simple reflect current national strengthen – not an indication of a further advance in the national elections in September.
An interesting footnote is that the ÖVP have been making positive noises about forming a State coalition government with the Greens though discussion are ongoing with other parties as well.
The big losers
FPÖ (Far-Right): There support may have only dropped 3.07% but for the Far-right FPÖ this was the third election disaster on 2013 and they are now only the fifth largest party. Again an election result in 2013 demonstrates the Party’s weaknesses – a message that is no longer resonating, organisational problems, and competition for protest votes.
Team Stronach (Right-populist): The billionaire Austro-Canadian businessman, Frank Stronach, must be wishing that he didn’t need to spend time away in Canada (he has to spend about 6 months of the year there to maintain his residency status). While he was at home in Canada his Party ended up with three party lists submitted for the election in Tirol. Following the electoral commissions decision on which list to approve, Frank had to go to Tirol to ‘sort things out’. This ended with Frank supporting the approved list but then during the election some of those on the list went public urging voters not to vote for the Team Stronach list. In the end TS gained 3.36% and no seats in the parliament.
List Fritz: A State Party which previously formed the main opposition but without its founder leading the list they dropped 12.74% points and secured only 5.61% of the vote.
Austrian Democracy: The Tirol turnout of 60.4% was the lowest ever in the history of the Austrian Second Republic (154 elections State and Federal elections) despite the electorate having the choice of eleven different parties.
In the latter part of the campaign the ÖVP ran heavily on the theme of ‘Italian chaos’ while other parties played heavily the ‘not the ÖVP’ card. Many in the electorate seem to have decided that without a positive reason to vote they would simple stay at home – this could be the key message of Tirol for all the parties competing in the Federal election in September.
Downward: SPÖ (Social Democrats) (13.72%) -1.15% but now second largest party; KPÖ (Communist) (0.53%) -0.63%.
Impact: Gurgiser und Team 4.84%; Pirates 0.38%; Für Tirol 0.73%
New Tirol Parliament (Seats)
Forward Tirol: 4
List Fritz: 2