Tag Archives: Austrian far-right

Who’s benefiting from the fall of the Far-Right FPÖ? No it’s not Uncle Frank!


With new polls added to my running average figures, it’s clear that the fall of Far-Right FPÖ is continuing with their poll rating now down to 18.6%. They have dropped 2.2% points since January 2013 and when compared to their average rating in January 2012 they have fallen 8 percentage points.

Current average based upon last five polls:

SPÖ: 26.6%, ÖVP: 24.2%, FPÖ 18.6%, Greens 13.8%, Team Stronach: 10.8%, BZÖ 2.6%, Others 3.4%

Percentage variation across last five polls:

SPÖ: 26%-27%, ÖVP: 23%-25%, FPÖ 18%-19%, Greens 13%-14%, Team Stronach: 9%-15%, BZÖ 1%-4%

So it’s the Stronach effect?

State elections in Lower Austria and Kärnten, combined with polling data, show that as well as attracting previous non-voters Team Stronach (TS) gains more support from former FPÖ supporters than it does from any other party. This suggests that TS both threatens any FPÖ recovery (by now being the main beneficiary of the protest vote) and hastening their further decline (tempting more of the anti-establishment vote away from the FPÖ).

It’s this evidence that has got many of the papers talking about the damage TS is doing to the FPÖ. But look at the average figures since the Austro-Canadian billionaire businessman, Frank Stronach, founded Team Stronach at the end of September 2012:

Party

Sept ’12 Average

Jan’13 Average

Average Now

Diff Sept to Now

Team Stronach

11%

10.6%

10.8%

-0.2%

FPÖ

20%

20.8%

18.6%

-1.4%

So who is benefiting from FPÖ vs Stronach?

Currently the main beneficiary of the decline of the FPÖ and their battle for survival with TS has been the ÖVP (conservatives):

Party

Sept ’12 Average

Jan’13 Average

Average Now

Diff Sept to Now

Team Stronach

11%

10.6%

10.8%

-0.2%

FPÖ

20%

20.8%

18.6%

-1.4%

ÖVP

22.2%

22.8%

24.2%

2%

I suspect that by the time of the General Election it will be TS that have most benefited from a continued decline of the FPÖ but it hasn’t happened yet. As for the ÖVP the addition of more right learning votes may help their vote share hold up if more liberal ÖVP switch to NEOS or the Greens – either of which is a real possibility.

And what’s been happening to the others since the arrival of Uncle Frank?

Party

Sept ’12 Average

Jan’13 Average

Average Now

Diff Sept to Now

SPÖ

27%

27%

26.6%

-0.4%

Greens

13.6%

14%

13.8%

+0.2%

BZÖ

3%

1.6%

2.6%

-0.4%

Others

3.2%

3.2%

3.4%

+0.2%

Sources: IMAS/krone 06-04-13
Gallup/oe24 06-04-13
Karmasin/heute 04-04-13
Market/Standard 02-04-13
Hajek/ATV 31-03-13

Leave a comment

Filed under Austrian Politics, Politics

‘Choose your friends carefully’…..do guest speakers define a political party?


I have a lot of friends with different views and attitudes to the world. I include amongst my friends not only social liberals, left libertarians, and some economic liberals, but also socialist, anarchists, conservatives…..oh and I even have a friend who is a Welsh Nationalist from Leicester (England). The main point is that they all put up with me (amazingly), while I respect the fact that we all have different opinions on life, the universe, et al. Other than we get something from our friendship/association, I doubt you could tell that much about these people from the fact that they on occasion talk, eat and/or drink with me or in some cases go to watch a football match. I equally doubt that you could tell too much about me from observing these people – other than I have very long suffering friends. So I find the following quote a little less than the full true:

‘Choose your friends carefully……You reveal your character….Not only by the company you keep…. But by the people you avoid…..’

No you don’t! We are all more complicated than that and so are relationships.

Okay, so why am I writing about this and what has this got to do with my headline ‘do guest speakers define a political party?’

Well it’s a story that’s been making the news today, when I read the article that quote popped into my head. Have a look here in der Standard (Google translate works OK) it seems the BZÖ are coming under fire for their choice of a guest speaker, with ‘far-Right’ associations, for the launch of their Kärnten State election campaign. Based on this speakers reported history it leaves me wondering why you would invite such a person to help launch your campaign if you didn’t want to be associated with their views.

Given the BZÖ (currently languishing on an average poll rating of 2.4%) look set to exit the national parliament in this year’s General Election, you could ask why does this matter. Well a number of people (including a twitter friend of mine) regularly challenge me about my use of the phrase ‘more moderate far-Right’* when describing the BZÖ’s place on the political spectrum. I also use the term ‘Right Wing Conservatives’ as over the years they seem to oscillate as a party primarily between the two positions (they have tried to reinvent themselves a number of times including as a liberal party and also a business party but they keep coming back to either far-Right or Right Conservative).

Choosing to invite speakers with very different views to debate at your events is and should always be a healthy form of political engagement but if you choose a speaker to help launch your election campaign, then don’t be so surprised that people will consider that this rather….’reveals your political character’.

So I guess its back to BZÖ ‘more moderate far-Right’?

 

(* In comparison to the FPÖ)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Austrian Politics, Politics

Far-Right on the defensive


As Kurier newspaper highlights today, the far-Right FPÖ are on the defensive after the emergence of a new centre-right competitor. Whilst the recent dramatic fall in their support has levelled out – for now – the strategists of the FPÖ are seeking to concentrate on ‘old favourites’ in an attempt to stem further losses, particularly to the newly launched Team Stronach.

As the opinion polls table below shows, the FPÖ has lost over 6% of its support since January. This has primarily been as a consequence of a wave of scandals finally damaging the Party. Now they face a new centre-right challenge from the Anglo-Canadians billionaire, Frank Stronach, and his ‘Team Stronach’ Party. Polling evidence suggests this new competitor has the ability to take a significant chunk of the remaining FPÖ vote.

Average across five current opinion polls and change since January 2012

 Poll Average Now  Average Jan 2012  Change
SPO  26%  28.60%  -2.60%
OVP  22.20%  23.80%  -1.60%
FPO  20.40%  26.60%  -6.20%
Greens  14.80%  13.60%   1.20%
BZO  3.20%  4.80%  -1.60%
Team Stronach  10.00%  0.0%   10.00%
Others  3.40%  2.60%   0.80%

 

To counter the threat, the FPÖ are once again playing the anti-asylum card hard again having more recently tried to focus on an anti-EU line. The problem they face is that whilst this approach has had success for the Party in the past there is evidence that it might actually drive some supports over to Team Stronach and further limit the chances of the Party recapturing voters who have already deserted them.

Interesting I note in the article that FPÖ strategists are, for now, avoiding directly attacking Frank Stronach as he is viewed positively by many of their voters.

FPÖ strategists are also trying to revive the idea that the general election next year will be about whether they or the SPÖ (Social Democrats) can come out on top. This looks less credible with both the emergence of ‘Team Stronach’ and the fact that the FPÖ are behind the (conservative) ÖVP in recent opinion polls.

 

Polling sources: IMAS/Krone 26-10-12
Gallup/oe24 21-10-12
Karmasin/Profil 20-10-12
Market/Standard 10-10-12
Oekonsult 9-10-12

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Austrian Politics, Politics

Going on the attack whilst defending on the back foot can be tricky: SPÖ vs Team Stronach


An interesting interview here  (in German but Google translate works quite well on this article) in Die Presse with SPÖ Federal Manager Laura Rudas.

The interview sees the opening line of attack on Team Stronach from the SPÖ: ‘Stronach protects the rich and represents a backward-looking policy on Europe.’ It’s noticeable that she also suggests that as there is ‘no common ground’ a coalition including the SPÖ and Team Stronach is not on the agenda, though I don’t think that door is completely closed as Rudas only explicitly rules out entering a future coalition with the Far-Right FPÖ.

While Team Stronach’s main impact has been to take votes from the Far-Right this new Party could also do damage to the SPÖ’s share of the vote, particularly if Stronach (an Austro-Canadian billionaire) is able to successfully pitch the twin lines of representing ‘ordinary working people’ and being an anti-corruption/clean hands.

On the question of the parliamentary anti-corruption committee and the (non)appearance of Werner Faymann, the Austrian Chancellor and SPÖ leader, to answer questions on the alleged advertising scandal Rudas defence did not come over well to this particular (neutral) reader. This issue has already cost them support in the opinion polls and with both the Greens, as well as Team Stronach, able to make a clean hands appeal the SPÖ needs to resolve their position quickly.

On a side note, I rather like one of the Green Party’s current campaign posters which has the slogan ‘100% Bio, 0% Corrupt’. A clear, strong, and simply put message summing up two ideas they want to hammer home.

Returning to the subject of the future composition of the Austrian government, for Laura Rudas the options for coalition after next year’s general election are Red/Green (SPÖ & Greens) or Red/Black (the current Grand Coalition of SPÖ and the conservative ÖVP). For more on the current state of the parties in the opinion polls and future coalitions here’s a more detailed blog post I produced earlier this week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Austrian Politics, Politics

The far-Right’s ‘House of Cards’?


Austria’s far-right FPO has in the last year become well established in second place in Austrian national opinion polls. They have even, on occasion, topped some polls and journalists often talk of the possibility of them being the largest Party after the next general election.

That they have currently pushed the OVP into third place and are pressing the SPO for top spot in the polls is the story recent months. But if you were a strategist for the FPO you might be having some sleepless nights and wondering which of the other Parties will finally muster the clarity of ideas and message to bring down your House of Cards.

Why do I say this when an average of polls (see below) clear show the FPO ‘doing well’?

Average from five recent polls

Polls GE 2008 Change
SPO 29.00% 29.3% -0.30%
OVP 23.80% 26% -2.20%
FPO 26.00% 17.5% 8.50%
Greens 13.60% 10.4% 3.20%
BZO 4.60% 10.7% -6.10%
Others 3.20% 6.1% -2.90%
Sources: Gallup, 01-01-2012
IMAS, 28-12-2011
Gallup, 25-12-2011
ATV, 15-12-2011
Gallup, 11-12-2011

 

Well, underneath these headline numbers there have been a few interesting polling figures about the public view of the FPO party leader, an individual who is always of more significance in such a ‘popularist’ party. Firstly, Gallup for Austria’s current political barometer results put Heinz-Christian Strache in last place in a list of senior political figures. His overall rating is now -44% (down 17%), with 63% giving him a negative rating and only 19% recording a positive view. In this second poll (ATV Austria Trends – December 2011) Strache comes last out of the five Party leaders on the question of trust in decision making. Even Bucher the leader of the BZO (more ‘moderate’ far-right), whose Party’s support has collapsed and transferred to the FPO, scores a percentage point higher than Strache.

To me polling evidence has long suggested that it’s the weaknesses of the two governing Coalition Parties (SPO – left of centre Social Democrats- & OVP – right of centre conservatives) that has allowed the FPO a relatively free ride up to second place. The questions remain which of the Parties – Coalition, Greens or a new Party – are going to be able to blow down this House of Cards or will one or both of the governing Parties help deliver the next election to the FPO by default. Equally, that FPO strategist might be starting to think new leader or even let’s split the Party – they’ve done it before.

Leave a comment

Filed under Austrian Politics, Politics