Not always known for its pro-EU sympathies, the electorate of Austria are this time round more firmly backing parties with pro-EU views.
The headlines I read in the international press often talk about the advance of the FPÖ alongside other Far-Right parties in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections. If you look at the current polling averages and compare them to the last election it would appear, at first glance, that we have another story of Far-Right, anti-EU advance in an EU member state. FPÖ 2009 12.7% now average poll figure 19.6%.
But wait. Let’s add a few footnotes:
- Austria is a country where opinion polls regularly show around 33% of the electorate as EU sceptic.
- Last election the FPÖ faced serious competition for the sceptic vote from the Martin List and the BZÖ.
- This time round there is no Martin List, the BZÖ dropped out of the national parliament last September and their lead candidate quit early in their campaign. The other anti-EU parties competing have few resources and represent no serious competition.
- In national politics the governing Grand Coalition of the SPÖ/ÖVP have had a bad start to their latest term in office.
In short, the FPÖ as the largest opposition party in Austria should have everything going for them. But that’s not how it’s playing out in the polls:
Average figures based on last five EU polls
|Polls Av Now||Euro 2009||Change|
The pro-EU parties SPÖ/ÖVP/Grünen/NEOS have a combined figure of 74%. While the Populist EU sceptics FPÖ/BZÖ/REKO combined total is 22.6%.
Currently parties with a broadly pro-EU position are up +10% against the anti-EU camp.
I wrote the other day about the advance of the progressives alternatives in the national parliamentary polls. In the EU polls the gap between the progressive alternatives and the populists is currently larger:
One particular point of interest is that the party with the strongest pro-EU message, Neos, is making the largest impact in the election. This Liberal Centrist party broke into the national parliament at the first attempt last September with just under 5% of the vote. They have now overtaken the Greens in the polls with an average figure of 13.2%. It seems the Party’s ‘We love Europe’ slogan is doing them no harm.