- Polling questions
- A few predictions for the election
- The shrinking Right and rising Centre
Back in May I blogged about the IMAS/Krone raising the question ‘Volatile electorate or a rogue poll’? For the last few months the various polling companies have been telling a very similar story about the state of the parties in Austria. However, the latest IMAS/Krone is again noticeably different to the other but shows a similar pattern to their May results:
June IMAS/Krone poll
SPÖ 27-29%, ÖVP 25-27%, FPÖ 18-20%, Greens 11-13%, Team Stronach: 7-9%, BZÖ 3-5%
May IMAS/Krone poll
SPÖ 28-30%, ÖVP 27-29%, FPÖ 18-20%, Greens 11-13%, Team Stronach: 6-8%, BZÖ 2-4%, Others 1-3%
Excluding the IMAS survey here are the current national average ratings for the Parties based upon last five polls:
SPÖ: 27.2%, ÖVP: 24.8%, FPÖ 18.0%, Greens 15.2%, Team Stronach: 9.2%, BZÖ 1.6%, Others 4.0%
And here are the current national average ratings including the IMAS poll:
SPÖ: 27.4%, ÖVP: 25.0%, FPÖ 18.2%, Greens 14.6%, Team Stronach: 9.0%, BZÖ 2.0%, Others 3.8%
The percentage variation across the five polls without the IMAS survey:
SPÖ: 27%-28%, ÖVP: 24%-25%, FPÖ 18%, Greens 14%-16%, Team Stronach: 8%-10%, BZÖ 1%-2%
The percentage variation across the five polls without the IMAS survey:
SPÖ: 27%-29%, ÖVP: 24%-27%, FPÖ 18-20%, Greens 11%-16%, Team Stronach: 7%-10%, BZÖ 1%-5%
So what is this telling us?
You can rightly look at the survey techniques and sample size for explanations of variations in the polls. But in this case IMAS is consistently and significantly different to the others no matter the sample size. Of particular note is that the other survey this weekend – the quarterly Hajak/ATV poll – again produced very different results for the Greens and BZÖ in particular:
SPÖ: 27%, ÖVP: 25%, FPÖ: 18%, Greens 16%, Team Stronach: 10%, BZÖ: 1%, Neos: 1%, Pirates: 1%, Others: 1%
My educated guess is that the IMAS polling has a problem identifying the Green vote and is overstating the level of BZÖ support. Despite this their findings should not be dismissed, what all the polls are suggesting is that the numbers of people willing to switch party or stay at home are greater than ever.
Therefore let take a look at the difference between the figures with and without IMAS. Here’s a few more educated guesses:
- The initial rise of the Greens took votes from the ÖVP and but at their higher poll ratings they damage the SPÖ. However, they also have the potential to attract new young voters in disproportionate numbers. If the Greens fall back it could therefore boost SPÖ and ÖVP which the IMAS variation suggests. But these voters tend to come from the motivated, liberal, section of the electorate, as does a significant proportion of the ‘core’ Green vote. If the Greens are really vulnerable watch the rise of the new Centrist Liberal party Neos who have a joint electoral platform with the LIF.
- The BZÖ figure looks much more like a reflection of ‘Others’ than a true indication of their likely level of support. It’s noticeable that polling data continually indicates that they are the party, in the current parliament, with the lowest ‘identity’ or ‘clear narrative’.
- IMAS and the other polling companies all agree that the FPÖ is now firmly below the 20% mark. Looking at the long term trends I expect them to fall back further by the General Election on 29th September 2013.
- Also the polls agree that at best Team Stronach is stagnating and at worst in decline. Interestingly the press continue to focus on the damage Team Stronach is doing to the FPÖ. While the former is now a road block to the latter and has taken some support away, the battle between Populist-Right and Far-Right, respectively, has left both with less support than they had when Team Stronach was founded back in September 2012.
- The desperate battle on the Right is resulting in a shrinking pool of voters for both parties. The situation for both the FPÖ and Team Stronach may be even worse by Election Day as both parties have higher than average numbers of supporters inclined to stay at home. In the meantime the result of their battle has been a rise in the level of ÖVP support.
- If, as I suspect, FPÖ and/or Team Stronach are vulnerable to voter defections then the ÖVP and SPÖ may increase their efforts to secure these voters. This would be the best chance for either party to reach +30% of vote share. However, too reckless as pursuit of these switchers could make either party vulnerable to losing centrist liberal supporters to either the Greens or Neos.
- Based upon the above scenario it is not beyond the realms of possibility that on election night FPÖ/Team Stronach/BZÖ share of the vote could be less than 25%, the Greens become the third largest party and Neos enter parliament at the first attempt. Additional arguments for this scenario include that over 70% of the electorate have a generally positive view of Austria, the priorities of the electorate are not reflected in the ‘battle on the Right’, in addition to ‘bread and butter’ issues the questions of competence/transparency/honesty and gradual reform are underlining motivators for the majority of voters.
If the election was today I think the coalition (SPÖ/ÖVP) would be back in power and the FPÖ would just hang on to third place. That’s because in politics, like the economy, there is a time lag between the period of change and the recognition of a new situation. Today the vote would reflect the now out of date story of Austrian politics. But today’s trends suggest that things could be very different on the 29th September.
The problem though with predicting political outcomes is that unexpected events can at least briefly (and occasionally permanently) change the game completely. There are 99 days left to the election, it’s going to be interesting…..I think 🙂
Quick guide to the Parties mentioned above:
SPÖ: Social Democrats – Broad left-centre party. National party structure with Vienna State as their traditional key stronghold.
ÖVP: conservative in the Christian Democrat mould. National party structure with strong rural base but increasingly weak in the Cities. Lower Austria State key stronghold.
FPÖ: Far-Right – Traditional beneficiary of the anti-establishment and populist vote. National structure but weak in most States. Former stronghold of Kärnten lost in State election and now only real stronghold in Vienna State.
Greens: Left-centre party. Traditionally weak national structure bolstered by recent election successes – now part of government in five States. Vienna State remains most significant stronghold. Party in Vienna more Left in comparison to centrist leanings in other States.
Team Stronach: Populist-Right. New party still building its structures but well funded by its founder/leader, billionaire Austro-Canadian, Frank Stronach. Seems to be a very centralised party dependent upon leader who has to spend significant time in Canada to maintain residency status.
BZÖ: ‘moderate’ Far-Right or Right-Wing Conservatives or Right-Wing Liberals are the’ brands’ tried at various times in the last few years. Originally, a breakaway fromthe FPÖ lead by Haider, the party has failed to find an identity or purpose since his death. No strongholds.
Neos: new Centrist Liberal party. They have a joint electoral platform with the Liberal Forum (LIF). Building party structure across the country, growing membership/supporters network, innovative in campaigning and public engagement, gradually developing finances to sustain electoral challenge.