Tag Archives: Austria

This made me laugh. Catchy song and fun video


Well done to the students at Vienna’s MODUL Uni for making fun music video – not bad PR for the Uni and City.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7slOAJgn010

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Are NEOS voters Left or Right leaning?


In yesterdays Austrian General Election Neos, the new Centrist Liberal grouping, caused a sensation by securing seats in parliament at the first attempt and making history by being the first new party to achieve such a feat in the history of the Second Republic.

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Polling research, here, suggests that NEOS have attracted voters in close to equal numbers from the Centre-Left and Centre-Right. The majority of NEOS voters had at the 2008 General Election voted for either the Centre-Right OVP or the Centre-Left Greens. Comparing the two sets of voters gives a split 52% to 48%.

Looking at all NEOS supporters voting behaviour at the 2008 General Election the figures are:

OVP (Centre-Right) – 38%

Greens (Centre-Left) – 35%

SPO (Centre-Left)/FPO & BZO (Right) – 12%

Non-voters – 15%

That only 15% had not voted at the previous General Elections suggests that NEOS is not a ‘party of protest’ but one that is starting to providing a new home to Liberals and Centrists who have historically been scattered across the political establishment.

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The groupings voter base seems to reflect the range of activists found in NEOS – Economic Liberals, Christian Democrats, Centrists, realist Greens, Social Liberals.

The question, as the Party moves on from its first triumph, is can it take advantage of its appeal across the centre and build a powerful broad church or will it follow modern political patterns which tend towards Parties increasingly representing a narrow sectional interest?

To date it’s looking good for a new broad, strong, Austrian Liberal Centre.

Neos newspaper article 1

 

Quick guide to the Parties:

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. Strongest General Election results in Vienna and Vorarlberg.

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. Originally, a breakaway from the FPÖ lead by Haider, the party has failed to find an identity or purpose since his death. No strongholds.

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Vienna, a city of oases with history


Wandering through Vienna’s streets it’s always worth keeping eye open for courtyards and passageways in which nestle shops, restaurants and galleries. Be warned they are not always obvious to the uninitiated despite the efforts of entrepreneurs to attract your attention with strategically placed signs. Part of the problem can be that despite the signs it’s not always obvious whether a doorway is a private or public entrance. Moreover, Vienna streets have so many signs directing you to shops or indicating offices and alike that after a while you tend to filter them out, the way we manage to not quite watch the TV commercials.

Many a Vienna passageway or courtyard provides a wonderful setting for restaurant, bar, or heurigen, a peaceful oasis in which to drink, eat and chat. Others are often home to interesting independent shops. If you do discover or regularly frequent such a location it’s always worth asking yourself about the history of the build(s) which surround you.

A favourite location of mine forms a useful short cut from the Vienna English Theatre and Veganista (the Vegan ice cream shop). It also has a surprising history.

Despite housing galleries, shops, restaurants, offices, apartments and flats (with assorted business signs on the main streets) the passageway linking Lerchenfelderstraße with Neustiftgasse is one of those locations that people seem to often miss. More than once lifelong residents of Vienna have been surprised when I’ve suggested we take this particular short cut. It was a the result of such surprise – and over a rather delicious vegan ice cream standing across the road looking at the buildings Neustiftgasse entrance – that we began to wonder about the buildings history. The name chosen for one of the restaurants, Monastiri, stimulated the debate and after a quick search on the internet we were deep in conversation about the former monastery built in 1847.

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So next time you find yourself walking down a Vienna street watch out for one of those oasis with a history.

 

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Summer nights in front of City Hall with a film


The Vienna Music Film Festival is taking place in the Rathausplatz. I was in the platz for a bite to eat yesterday and took a few pictures but I’ll be heading back to enjoy some films on Vienna’s warm summer nights.

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Here’s a link to the Festival programme

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Gem of a building – lesser known Vienna


Gem of a building – lesser known Vienna

I’ve driven passed Nußwaldgasse, a quiet side road in Döbling (Vienna’s 19th District), so many times without realising that only a few 100 metres away stands a gem of a building. When I first saw Nußwaldgasse 14 I immediately wonder about its original purpose. Even in my wildest imagination I would never have guess that someone would employ such a beautiful and interesting design to house a factory making insecticide.

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Die Zacherlfabrik (Zacherl factory) produced insect powder from pyrethrum imported from Tbilisi in Georgia. The original factory was established in 1873 and the building was re-built between 1882 and 1892. This Wikipedia entry describes the building as a rare example of ‘commercially motivated oriental historicism in European architecture’.

Today the building use includes providing a venue for concerts and art exhibitions.

 

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IMAS poll continues to tell a different story about Austrian politics


  • 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.

 

 

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Camels invade Vienna football pitch


Well I’ve seen a few strange sights and experienced some unusual events watching football over the years but a pitch invasion by camels and lamas was a first for me.

H had finished her game for the First Vienna FC U11 Girls and had asked if we could stay on to watch the U15 Girls match as one of her friends was playing. The early part of the game saw Vienna take the lead and the main point of note, other than the quality of the football, was a friendly exchange of views between the referee and one of the parents over a contentious decision. The sun was shining, the game was in full flow, and life was unfolding at First Vienna’s youth training centre as normal last Sunday morning. Then we heard a crash….

Over beyond the right hand goal a temporary paddock had been placed to allow camels and lamas from the travelling circus to graze. As we looked across we saw one of the more determined camels give a second push to the rapidly collapsing fence. This Houdini of the camel world showed no interest in the game of football being played but instead turned its attention to the lush grass before it.

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Even as our escape artist was joined by fellow camels and a number of lamas the game continued. We spectators were laughing and joking at the sight before for us and naturally people were reaching for cameras and camera phones. Someone was sent to rouse the circus folk and as more animals joined the initial breakout the referee was finally forced to call a temporary halt to the game.

By the time the animal’s keepers had arrived a number of the lamas had followed Houdini along the grass edge of the pitch and towards further grazing near the main builds. Suddenly the rest of the herd took off a speed to join them, chased by their circus guardians.

Suddenly the initial shock and humour of the crowd of parents changed to concern as the whole herd began to move back towards the pitch. We parents had been watching the game from the top of a slope adjacent to the pitch and were know shouting to the youngsters to join us on the safer high ground. As calm returned we all watched as keepers chased the animal around the pitch before successfully returning them to the paddock.

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The referee called the players back on the pitch and resumed the game. Over to our right a group of well exercised camels and lamas were being guided from their paddock into the big top.

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