Austrian General Election – Voters switched support but not always in ways you might expect!


Looking at the switch of voters between the parties in the Austrian General Election reveals surprising results. For example:

  • The advance of the FPO was in part limited by a net switch of voters to the Greens.
  • The switch of voters between the SPO and OVP produce a zero net impact.

I’ve been using the Der Standard interactive election graphic to look at SORA voting analysis produced for ORF. It tracks changes in voting behaviour between the 2008 and 2013 election.

I’ve taken the figures from the study and looked at the net movement of voters between each party.

SPÖ

Although they finished the election in first place, the SPÖ saw their share of the vote once more decline. A campaign aimed at maximising their core voter turnout resulted in the retention of 72% of 2008 supporters.

Net voter movements highlights the key problem for the party, the decision of a significant number of previous SPÖ voters not to vote – 173,000 didn’t cast a vote, while only an additional 25,000 former non-voters gave their support to the party this time round.

The switch of voters between the SPÖ and ÖVP produce a zero net impact. Losses to (Populist-Right) Team Stronach were almost balanced off by gains from the (Far-Right) BZÖ.

Net loss of votes 
SPO
Didn’t Vote 148,000
Team  Stronach 48,000
NEOS 23,000
Greens 20,000
FPO 11,000
OVP 0
Net gain of votes
SPO
BZO 40,000
Others 10,000
OVP 0

ÖVP

For the ÖVP the good news stories in the election campaign were second place and retention of 74% of previous 2008 supporters. However, this was an election which saw their share of the vote slip further and the party fail to secure a net positive movement of voters from any of its competitors.

On the Right the ÖVP lost support primarily to Team Stronach while even larger numbers of voters switch to the Centre and Centre-Left.

Net loss of votes 
OVP
NEOS 61,000
Didn’t Vote 52,000
Team Stronach 42,000
Greens 33,000
FPO 4,000
BZO 4,000
SPO 0
Net gain of votes
OVP
Others 26,000
SPO 0

FPÖ

The advance of the FPÖ was almost exclusively achieved by the party attracting approximately a third of 2008 BZÖ voters. They also made small net gains from minor parties voters, the SPÖ and ÖVP.

However, they retained only 69% of their 2008 support and saw net losses to the (Populist-Right) Team Stronach, as well as net losses to the (Centre-Left) Greens and (Centrist-Liberal) NEOS.

Net loss of votes 
FPO
Team Stronach 41,000
Didn’t Vote 27,000
Greens 21,000
NEOS 19,000
Net gain of votes
FPO
BZO 155,000
Others 36,000
SPO 11,000
OVP 4,000

Grünen

The Grünen were able to retain only 63% of their 2008 support with some 57,000 voters switching to the new Centrist Liberal option, NEOS.

However, their overall shares of the vote increased with the party taking 50,000 (net) votes away from the (Far- Right) BZÖ and FPÖ, as well as making progress on the Left with a net movement of 20,000 from the (Centre-Left) SPÖ.

Net loss of votes 
FPO
Team Stronach 41,000
Didn’t Vote 27,000
Greens 21,000
NEOS 19,000
Net gain of votes
FPO
BZO 155,000
Others 36,000
SPO 11,000
OVP 4,000

BZÖ

As predicted by the polls over the last few years, the BZÖ failed to reach the 4% hurdle and crashed out of parliament. They saw swathes of former votes switch to their Far- Right rivals the FPÖ and to a lesser degree former supporters moved to (Populist-Right) Team Stronach. They suffered smaller losses to the (Centre-Left) SPÖ and Greens, as well as to (Centrist Liberal) NEOS.

The net loss of votes to the senior out-going coalition partner sets another unwanted record for the BZÖ – the only party in the former parliament to suffer a net loss of support to the SPÖ.

The only success for the party came in securing small net gains in 2008 voters from ‘Others’ and the junior out-going coalition partner, the (conservative) ÖVP.

Net loss of votes 
BZO
FPO 155,000
Team Stronach 68,000
Didn’t Vote 61,000
SPO 40,000
Greens 30,000
NEOS 21,000
Net gain of votes
BZO
Others 11,000
OVP 4,000

Team Stronach

Team Stronach, formed in September 2012, had secured seats in the last parliament through MP defections.

The election campaign saw the Populist-Right party secure 109,000 votes from amongst 2008 voters who had previously supported the (Far- Right) BZÖ and FPÖ. Team Stronach’s second highest support came from former voters of the (Centre-Left) SPÖ.

The party was the most effective at persuading 2008 non-voters to come out and give their support. However, it was less effective at securing support from those who had previously voted ‘Other’.

Net loss of votes 
Team Stronach
Not formed in 2008
Net gain of votes
Team Stronach
BZO 68,000
SPO 48,000
OVP 42,000
FPO 41,000
Didn’t Vote 29,000
Others 28,000
Greens 14,000

NEOS

The party was formed in October 2012. NEOS achieved election history by being the first new party to enter parliament at the first attempt (without already having seats in parliament).

NEOS provided a new Centrist Liberals alternative and secured its place in parliament by securing support from both Right and Left 2008 voters. In particular, they were effective at attracting support from the (conservative) ÖVP and the (Centre-Left) Greens.

Their success in securing support from 2008 ‘Others’ and ‘Didn’t Vote’ in part reflects support from former Liberal Forum (LIF) votes – NEOS ran on a joint platform with the LIF and the two parties are now planning to merge.

Net loss of votes 
NEOS
Not formed in 2008
Net gain of votes
NEOS
OVP 61,000
Greens 57,000
Others 35,000
Didn’t Vote 24,000
SPO 23,000
BZO 21,000
FPO 19,000

A sad note

The most ‘loyal’ of all voters in the election were the ‘Didn’t Vote’ category. Around 85% did not go and cast their vote again in 2013.

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Filed under Austrian Politics, Politics

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