Tag Archives: Austrian Pirate Party

Populist EU sceptics drop back in Austrian polls


With polling day getting closer and the Parties moving into the main phase of their EU campaigns, it seems a good moment to take a look at who is on the up and who is struggling in the election campaign here in Austria.

Good news for pro-EU campaign

Since my last blog post on the EU election the pro-EU parties SPÖ/ÖVP/Grünen/NEOS have advanced slightly and now have a combined figure of 74.8% (+0.8%). While the Populist EU sceptics FPÖ/BZÖ/REKOS combined total has dropped to 21.6% (-1%).

Currently parties with a broadly pro-EU position are up +11% against the anti-EU camp in comparison to 2009.

At the last election the EU sceptic camp included the FPÖ, BZÖ, List Martin. Their combined support was 34.96%. So at this stage in the campaign the current sceptic flag wavers are down 13.36%.

Campaign performances so far

The Parties have been on the EU election campaign trail since the beginning of the year. A look at the changes in average polling figures between the beginning of January and the 1st May provides some insight into how each of the Party is doing.

Advancing in the polls

NEOS

The 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 13.6%. Since January they have seen their EU poll figures improve by +4%.

SPÖ

The larger of the two parties that form the ruling ‘Grand Coalition’, the Social Democrats are currently polling at the same figure as they achieved at the last EU election.  They are also only one of three election lists to improve its ratings since January, up 2%.

Europa Anders

This list is an electoral alliance of the Communist Party, the Pirates and Change. As they have often been included in ‘others’ in the polls it’s a little bit more difficult to track their performance. In the 1st May Gallup poll they achieved their highest ever figure of 3%. They appear to have advanced between 1.5% & 2% since the alliance was formed.

(Note: Back in January I was estimating the Pirates support at around 2% and the Communists at 1%.)

 

Stuck in the polls

ÖVP

The junior party in the ruling ‘Grand Coalition’, the conservative People’s Party topped the poll at the last EU election. Their current average rating of 24.6% is down 5.4% on that election result. Since January their polling average has remained unchanged. The only good news for the Party is that they are polling 4% higher in the EU polls than the national polls.

Grünen

The Greens have remained unchanged in the polls when compared to January. However, then they held fourth position which they’ve now relinquished to NEOS.

BZÖ

This FPÖ lite party fell out of the national parliament back in September. Their campaign to date has had no impact on the polls and they remain at little over 1%.

REKOS

The Reform Conservatives like the BZÖ remain an ‘also run’, stuck on 1%.

 

Dropping points

FPÖ

Although up by 6% on the last EU election (when the List Martin stole the anti-government show) the FPÖ has seen its average poll rating slip (-3%) compared to its New Year performance.

 

Off the radar

EUSTOP

This ‘lock the borders and throw away the key’ grouping just doesn’t register in this election and isn’t going to provide any surprises.

 

The winners will be….

Let’s remember the old saying ‘A week is a long time in politics’. Much could happen between now and the 25th May. However, despite the campaign launches, the posters on every corner and the hours of TV coverage, to date not much has changed for most of those campaigning.

My guesses for election night:

It looks like the FPÖ will be able to claim ‘victory’ with an increased share of the vote but in fact will have shown that their decline and fall, like a melting glacier, is slow but real.

Despite the fact they will suffer the biggest loss of votes, the ÖVP will probably be happy to have polled ahead of the FPÖ.

Expected to hear the SPÖ saying ‘First is first’ as they take first spot with the same share of the vote they achieved in 2009. To be fair, in the current climate this will be a real win and achievement for the Party.

The Greens will take comfort in a modest gain in their share of the vote but will be concerned that they are losing ground to NEOS and not making significant inroads into the support of the ‘Grand Coalition’  at a time when both parties look vulnerable.

The big election winners will be NEOS with somewhere between 13% and 15% of the vote. A major advance for a Party that is only a year and a half old, which gained just under 5% at the first attempt to secure seats in the national parliament, and who is still building its organisation.

 

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Austrian General Election – Who will be the winners on 29th September 2013?


With just over a week to go before the General Election I take a look at the polls and whose campaign has momentum, which is stagnating, which parties are fading away? I also make a few predictions for the results on Election Day.

Here are the current national average ratings for the Parties based upon the last five polls in the press:

SPÖ: 26.6%,  ÖVP: 22.8%,  FPÖ 20.2%,  Greens: 14.2%,  Team Stronach: 7.8%,  BZÖ: 2.9%,  NEOS: 2.9%,  Pirates: 1.0%, Others: 1.6%

The percentage variation across these five polls:

SPÖ: 26% – 27%, ÖVP: 22% – 23%, FPÖ 20 – 21%, Greens 13% – 15%, Team Stronach: 7 – 9%, BZÖ 2% – 4%, NEOS: 2 – 3.5%, Pirates: 1%

 2013-09-20 13.50.07

Trends and predictions

Top spot

It looks like a safe bet that first place will go to the SPÖ even though their poll ratings haven’t moved since the beginning of August and they are slightly down from the 27% rating at the beginning of the year.

The Party had talked in the early stages of the election campaign about breaking the 30% mark but this looks extremely unrealistic after a campaign that has clearly been aimed at their core vote. Despite their consistent lead, party strategists will be concerned to ensure a strong end to the campaign as some reports in the papers talk about difficulties in mobilising their vote, particularly in Lower Austria the country’s largest state.

Prediction – SPÖ retain top spot but with a vote down from 2008 (29.3%) – 25% to 27%

 

Breakthrough

There are three Parties on the ballot paper who are not represented in the outgoing parliament – NEOS, Pirates, and Communists. They face the challenge of competing against Parties who receive State funding and of being excluded from the main election debates on TV. Currently none are achieving a poll average of 4% – the figure needed to enter the next parliament.

Prediction – NEOS will breach the 4% barrier and enter parliament. They have established themselves as credible challengers with many in the media; have successfully made themselves ‘the story’ and in so doing received higher levels of press coverage; the most recent polls have them at 3% to 3.5%. Additionally, my experience of talking to a cross-section of voters from Vienna & Lower Austria (the two largest States) says sympathy is turning into votes (but this continually lags behind the polls). – 4% to 6%

 

Fight for second place

The gap between the ÖVP and FPÖ has narrowed in September. The ÖVP average figure is now back to its poll rating at the beginning of the year. Although slipping back in the last week from the start of August, they have a significantly stronger party machine than their rival for second. Moreover, the FPÖ support seems to be less motivated than in previous years and they may have difficulties getting their vote out on Election Day.

Prediction – The ÖVP had a good start to 2013 gaining momentum from the State elections. However, their ‘Year of the ÖVP’ (the hope of finishing first) has died with a weak election campaign. Earlier in the summer they were benefiting from the erosion of support for both Team Stronach and FPÖ. However, the latter has stabilised its position and is itself now benefiting from the continued decline of Team Stronach. The ÖVP’s one remaining positive is that their organisation appears to be highly motivated and likely to ‘get their core vote out’. – 21% to 23% (down from 2008 result of 26%).

 

Is there a fight for third?

The Greens advanced over the summer and the FPÖ poll ratings where falling. For a while the idea of the Greens moving into third place became a serious point of debate. With two weeks to go the Greens advance has stalled while the FPÖ has rallied its support. Despite a good campaign and their leader, Eva Glawischnig, performing well in the main TV confrontations, the party’s average rating is once again at 14.2%.

The FPÖ have been fighting a defensive campaign seeking to stop the slide in their support, which has had success in moving their poll average back to 20.2% from the 18.6% at the start of August – still short of the 20.8% at the beginning of the year and a long way from their 26.6% back in January 2012.

Predictions:

–          The FPÖ to retain third place unless another scandal hits the Party in the final week. Historically, the polls understate their support, but in 2013 State elections the polls have been reasonably accurate. – 17% to 20% (stagnation or small advance from 2008 result of 17.5%).

 –          The Greens have had very good campaign but it’s slipping away from them. The ‘killjoy, telling people how to live their lives’ attacks from opponents have hit home with potential voters for the Green camp. While the more centrist Green message has been to the fore the more Left Green image in Vienna has not helped attract floating voters – 14% to 16% (up from 2008 result of 10.4%).

 

Possibly one of the worst campaigns in history

There is no really competition for this title. The clear undisputed winner is already the campaign of Team Stronach. Unfortunately, their Austro-Canadian founder, leader, and top list candidate Frank Stronach has performed poorly in the main TV confrontations, there have been divisions in the Party, and the campaign has (in my opinion) been appallingly weak given the millions the billionaire businessman has pumped into his Party. Since the beginning of August the Party has fallen from an average of 9.2% to 7.8%. When the Party was founded in their poll rating was 11% (and briefly had reach 16%).

Prediction – FRANK 6% to 8%

 

Fighting losers

Predicted by many (including me) to be sure bets not to return in the next parliament, the BZÖ have had a surprisingly good campaign. Party leader, Josef Bucher, first surprise of the campaign was to exclude a number of the Party’s better known right-wing members from the national list. His second surprise was good performances in the TV confrontations. However, the while pressing a more moderate new image, the Party has still been paddling at times in the same pool as the far-Right FPÖ and populist Team Stronach.

Prediction – 1% to 3%  (down from 2008 result of 10.7%).

 

Sources:

Gallup/oe 20-09 13
Karmasin/Heute 20-09-13
Hajek/ATV 19-09-13
Market/Der Standard 15-09-13
Spectra/Kleine Zeitung 14-09-13
 

 

Quick guide to the Parties:

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.

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.

Austrian Pirate Party: Left-centre party. Always keen to point out that they are more than an Internet party. More committed to ‘Liquid Democracy’ approach than their better known sister party in Germany.

 

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The General Election – Is it the Coalitions to lose?


The General Election – Is it the Coalitions to lose?

  • Coalition wants voters to concentrate on the battle for first place
  • Far and populist right looking for a message
  • What happened to the Green wave?
  • A 1% return on poster campaign & press coverage
  • New & smaller parties looking for a breakthrough

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The Austrian parliament wrapped up its final session last Friday. The parties will now be focusing on their summer campaigns before the final push in September (polling takes place on the 29th September). So as we move into the next phase of election year here are the current national average ratings for the Parties based upon last five polls:

SPÖ: 27.2%,  ÖVP: 24.4%,  FPÖ 19.0%,  Greens 15.0%,  Team Stronach: 8.0%,  BZÖ 2.6%,  Others 3.8%

The percentage variation across these five polls:

SPÖ: 26%-28%, ÖVP: 24%-25%, FPÖ 19%, Greens 14%-16%, Team Stronach: 8%, BZÖ 2%-4%

As has been the case for the last few months, the polls are of a similar view on the current share of the vote for the FPÖ and Team Stronach. They continue to differ most often on the position of the Greens and BZÖ.

Trends:

Grand Coalition

SPÖ/ÖVP: They have the headline they probably most want at this stage, the equivalent of ‘It’s a two horse race’. Currently, their combined strength is generating press coverage suggesting another Grand Coalition is the most likely (only) outcome. As such they are able to concentrate their efforts and they hope the minds of the voters on the question of who will be Number One and therefore lead the next governing coalition.

I’m sure both sets of strategists will be hoping that they can keep the ‘battle for first place’ running as the main story of the election campaign. It would fit well with their shared underlying message – stick with what you know and focus on who will make the best senior partner.

It’s all a bit down beat, no great attempt to win a significantly larger share of the vote by taking risks. If the vote share of the two Coalition partners does increase it’s likely to be a result of getting their core voters out in an overall low turnout.

The one risk at the moment, which has been highlighted by amongst others the Mayor of Vienna, is that if the ‘battle for first place’ becomes so aggressive it works against both parties. I note that polling data suggests that a continuation of the coalition of two is not the most popular option amongst voters, the ‘Grand Old Parties’ will need to argue carefully.

SPÖ: It’s been a bumpy year so far for the party. With the exception of Kärnten, this year’s State elections and referendum were not good news stories. At one time their polling figures were close to falling below the 25%. However, they have remained first in the polls all year and their current average is back to the same level as it was in January. What will concern their strategists’ is that their poll variations are again becoming wider, will their ‘safe pair of hands’ approach carry them to success or will voters start to slip through their fingers?

ÖVP: In recent months their polling figures have been the most stable of all the parties but their previous 2% points gain since January has become 1.6%. Yes it’s a tiny variation but they, like the SPÖ, have been dominating the headlines, pushing hard with the idea of  it being the ‘Year of the ÖVP’, and that first place is a real possibility. Their strategists may start to wonder whether they are trying to build momentum or hold on till Election Day.

Looking for a message

Data suggests the parties of the far and populist right are finding it difficult to reach beyond the minority of voters who poll categorise as ‘feeling excluded, or pessimistic, or insular’. Worse these votes are amongst the most likely to stay at home come election time and the less negative inclined to switch allegiance.

FPÖ: It’s managed to stop is freefall and nudged its average poll ratings back up by 1%. It’s traditional core messages ‘immigration, crime, Europe’ have failed to help it make any headway and even attempts to move on to key voter issues have done little more than stabilise the situation. The one positive for the FPÖ is that they finally seem to have benefited from the decline in support for Team Stronach. Where once they talked of first place and 33% vote share, now they are talking about a place in government with 20% plus. The reality is that they will be happy if they can maintain third place in the coming election. The 2013 election has already been written off, their strategists are trying to maintain support in the high teens, hoping that Frank and his Team Stronach will disappear after the election and then the FPÖ will have a clear run for the next general election.

Team Stronach: The Party has lost 2.6% points in the polls since January. Bizarrely, the TS seems to have been asleep for the last month or so and is only now launching its summer campaign. Either party strategists didn’t want to ‘peak’ too soon or they have been rethinking their plans and re-organising after a disappointing Spring. The party’s policy launches have suffered from easy attack from opponents and journalists – TS policy cycle is Frank says…journalist question…Franks says detail being worked on by committee….policy detail launched… journalist question…Franks says further detail being worked on by committee. Frank himself doesn’t do well in open interviews. Interestingly, the new campaign response to all this seems to be an advertising campaign based upon images of Frank and single words…..’Social Frank’….’Authentic Frank’. Oddly, this might actually be Team Stronach best strategy in the circumstances.

BZÖ: Much of Team Stronach’s support seems to come from people who voted BZÖ at the last election but subsequently switched to the FPÖ before also abandoning them due to the ongoing scandals. The emergence of Team Stronach stripped almost their entire remaining vote away – they have regularly been at 1% in the polls. The party will be relieved to see that they, like the FPÖ, have finally benefited from the drop in TS support – up until now the ÖVP has tended to be the beneficiary of any drop in Team Stronach’s poll ratings. But it’s a very limited gain with the BZÖ’s average poll rating only going up 1% since January to 2.6%.

The Right: All three parties are desperately looking for not so much a winning message but just a message that works enough to keep them in the game. That game for the FPÖ and Team Stronach is to gain influence in next parliament and deliver a fatal blow to the other. For the BZÖ the game is survival and their latest move has been to try to reinvent themselves as a ‘modern ÖVP’. However, it’s only a few weeks ago that some members of the BZÖ were offering ‘political asylum’  to right-wingers in the FPÖ who had lost the latest of that party’s internal power struggles.

What happened to the Green wave?

Greens: After a successful round of State elections earlier in the year the political headlines were dominated by the idea of a ‘Green wave’ which would sweep the party into power as part of a three way coalition. The reality is that the average poll rating for the Greens has increased by only 1% since January (though their current 15% is 4.6% higher than at the last election).  What’s significant is that in some polls they have passed the 15% mark – previously seen by many commentators as the ceiling for Green support. The worry for Green strategists will be that in the last two months while some polls have had them as high as 16% others have had them polling around the 12%/13% mark.

A one percent return on poster campaign & press coverage?

Billboard posters are a significant aspect of an Austrian election campaign.  While they clearly have a value in reminding voters of a party and a key message, I have often wondered how much impact an average poster campaign has on increasing voter support.

In the last few weeks the BZÖ has undertaken a big poster campaign which has coincided with the launch of their election list and the resulting additional press coverage. The posters have been widespread and had a clear message. The result of these posters combined with added press coverage would appear to be a mere 1%. Maybe poster campaigns are more for motivating existing support rather than for changing campaign fortunes. If that was true Team Stronach (see above) and others may need to think a little more creatively. I suspect the PR experts will tell me I’m wrong but it’s a thought.

New & smaller parties looking for a breakthrough

Parties not represented in the outgoing parliament and who want to compete in the September General Election are currently collecting the 2600 signatures from across the country needed to enable them to stand.

Of the new and smaller parties likely to be fighting the election two appear to have a chance of breaking through the 4% needed to enter parliament – the Pirates and Neos. They or any other would be challengers will need to start making an impact soon if they are to achieve a breakthrough:

The Austrian Pirate Party: It’s not much but after months of registering 1% in the polls (in which their support is specifically recorded) a poll this week had them at 2%. I would not normally mention such a 1% to 2% change in one poll but it comes at a time when the Pirates have had a higher degree of press coverage and the Snowden affair has raised the profile of what would be seen by voters as issues relevant to the party. It suggests, no more than that, that if the headlines provide the right opening then the Pirates may be able to secure enough attention to reach the 4%.

Neos – Still my number one bet for a party to break into the next parliament. Steady press coverage (though usually limited to the ‘quality Press’), growth of interest in such activity as the Party’s Facebook site, and the positive response from those who become aware of this new party, all suggest the chance is there. However, Neos is yet to make waves in the polls – where their support is specifically recorded it registers only at the 2% level. The challenge in the next few weeks will be for the Party to raise public awareness to a level where it can convert interest into hard support.

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And what about the voters?

A few things I’ve noted about vote attitudes in recent polls:

1)      Austrian voters appear to be very positive about democracy in general but far less impressed with current party policies.

2)      More than half of voters say they already know who they will vote for and just over 20% appear to be undecided. But Party loyalty is far lower than ever before, so strategists would be careful about assuming that ‘decides’ are ‘firm’ support.

3)      A third of electorate may stay at home come the election based on recent survey findings. This is particularly true of current FPÖ, Team Stronach, and BZÖ supporters, which could further deflate their vote shares.

4)      Voters are far more likely to be optimistic than pessimistic about the future.

 

IMG_8418

 

 

Quick guide to the Parties listed 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. Originally, a breakaway from the 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.

Austrian Pirate Party: Left-centre party. Always keen to point out that they are more than an Internet party. More committed to ‘Liquid Democracy’ approach than their better known sister party in Germany.

 

Sources: Market/DerStandard 07-07-13
OMG/Kurier 07-07-13
Gallup/oe 07-07-13
Gallup/oe 29-06-13
Oekonsult/Mein Bezirk 28-06-13
   

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NEOS are the big winners from direct voter contact


The neuwal.com folks have produced a very useful summary of an interesting political experiment undertaken at the Commercial College and Trade School Steyr.

The experiment first involved students casting their votes for the various political parties. Interestingly in this first round the Pirates do well alongside the SPÖ, ÖVP, Greens, and FPÖ. The students then had direct contact with representatives of all the nine parties through an information event at which the politicians answered questions.

Interestingly in the second round of voting that then followed it was NEOS who where the big winner with the biggest gain in support and finishing third overall. As you can see from the graphs on the neuwal.com page, the BZÖ along within Team Stronach and the ÖVP also improved their share of the vote. The biggest losers were the SPÖ, Greens, and Pirates.

It would be fascinating to see this experiment repeated elsewhere as this would help answer the question as to the degree policy or representatives influenced the voters.

One point of note from this story is that it lends weight to what I’ve heard NEOS people say a lot in recent months – ‘When we talked to people directly we get a very positive response’.

With the General Election scheduled for the 29th September 2013 the question remains ‘Will NEOS be able to get a direct hearing from the electorate?’ It’s going to be  a challenge for the new Centrist Liberal platform in a political system where the established parties have greater media coverage and large campaign chests from State and other funding.

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Austrian voters say we are ‘not on the side of the big battalions, but of the best shots’


Or to put it another way, a lot of Austrian voters seem to think its desirable to have many small parties in the next Parliament. According to research carried out for der Standard newspaper, 47% of those surveyed believed that parliament would be more representative with many small parties representing diverse opinion.

Almost as many, 43%, believe that fewer parties in parliament would be better. Currently, there are  six parties represented in the Austrian parliament. Five of which are expected to secure seats at the election in September. The sixth, the BZÖ, has been averaging 2% or lower in the polls for over a year and a party needs to reach the 4% threshold to enter parliament.

To me this research provides further evidence that voters are not only frustrated with the current options but also more inclined to think in terms of party programme combined with who that party would be most like to join with in forming a coalition. Polling data from the recent four State elections would appear to support the idea of a more selective electorate influenced by perceived party competence, programme relevance, and potential coalitions. Interestingly, we now have 3 way coalitions at State level for the first time and Austria’s (current) fourth largest party the Greens, look set to increase its involvement in State government to five out of nine States, if discussions go as forecast.

For new parties outside parliament such as NEOS and the Austrian Pirates, both of whom are currently under the 4% threshold, these developments will increase their expectations and strength of arguments in the run-up to the General Election in September. For the new grouping in the current parliament, the party of billionaire Austro-Canadian businessman Frank Stronach, Team Stronach, these finds may explain why the party is stuck below 10% in the polls despite disproportionate press coverage and multi-million Euro funding. A vague populist platform, internal party strife, and reluctance to engage in a future coalition, are going to limit your reach and limit you to a battle with the FPÖ for a shrinking pool of voters.

As for the big battalions they will need to balance the ‘big party stability’ argument with a greater willingness to talk about different coalition options. For the SPÖ and ÖVP this will mean a stand up fight for who will be the largest party, while talking up the benefits of the Grand Coalition stability, and at the same time  being more willing to talk about alternative coalition combinations greater than two. The latter they seem to be increasingly doing in the aftermath of the four State elections earlier this year.

The headline is a partial quote from a somewhat famous Frenchman. I’m a bit of a fan of Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Shape’ novels and have always like this extract from ‘Shape’s Enemy’:

Richard Sharpe: No wonder Harris reads Voltaire. Listen: Dieu ne pas pour le gros battalions, mais pour sequi teront le meileur.

Teresa: God is not on the side of the big battalions, but the best shots.

Richard Sharpe: Not bad for a Frog, eh?

The use of the Rifle as a skirmishers weapon (Napoleon preferred his skirmishers to use traditional muskets) by the British and the subsequent development in the use of Rifle Regiments was an example of technology and flexible thinking changing the established norms for campaigning – in this instance the Napoleonic Wars.

A much more peaceful question is which of the  small parties have the potential to be the ‘Riflemen’ at the coming election – able to respond coherently to a fragmenting, sceptical, electorate; and adaptable to the changing campaigning environment in which new networks may be as important as traditional associations in engaging and motivating support? Or are any of the ‘big battalion’ parties able to develop their own ‘Riflemen’ capable of creating new electoral constituencies and once more build a broad electoral base? Voters are more volatile than ever, willing to consider other option or simply stay at home. When the dust settles after Election Day it will be the new ‘best shots’ and not the big battalions who will have, I suspect, ‘won the day’.

 

 

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Future blog post tells of shock results in Septembers Austrian General Election


Much to my surprise a blog post of mine from the future popped up in my electronic mail box. As it describes the results of this coming September’s Austrian General Election I thought it might be helpful to share it now.

 

Electorate votes for change

Pollsters had been warning in the months leading up to the General Election that below the headline figures there were record levels of ‘churn’ between the Parties. The electorate were said to be more volatile than at any time in the Second Republics history, the Parties could not take support for granted, and there were significant shift taking place amongst urban younger voters. They had also noted that the number of people with an optimist view of the future far outweighed those who thought Austria was in decline.

So whilst the poll may have been wide of the make in predicting this weeks’ General Election result they were right about the causes of the biggest shake-up in Austrian politics.

Looking at the exit poll data it seems clear that things could have been worst for the outgoing Grand Coalition SPÖ/ÖVP but for the strength of their respective party machines in being able to ‘get their vote out’. While both lost support to other parties their percentage of previous supporters staying at home was relatively low. One additional positive note for the coalition parties was that both had some success in attracting voters away from the FPÖ but these gains were not enough to offset defections to other challengers.

The Greens will be particularly pleased that while making gains in the urban areas they also made small inroads into the rural/urban fringe. Their success in taking votes from both the (conservative) ÖVP and (Social Democrat) SPÖ would have produced an even better result but for the fact that many of their liberal supporters switch to either NEOS or the Pirates.

Scandals, infighting and a negative message seem to have accounted for the poor performances of the three Parties of the Far-Right/Populist-Right.

Despite the millions of Euros spent since the launch of Team Stronach back in September 2012, the Party just wasn’t able to stretch its appeal beyond the protest vote – support coming primarily form previous non-voters and former BZÖ voters.

The FPÖ story at this general election remained the same as that at the early State elections. Former older votes primarily staying at home or switching to SPÖ or ÖVP, younger voters turned decisively to the Greens and new parties.

One prediction the polls got right was the collapse of the BZÖ. Like many of their MP’s, voters primarily switched allegiance to Team Stronach.

By building a broad Liberal Centrist base the new party NEOS has been one of the big success stories of the election campaign. By using social media and building strong networks the Party has been able to attract primarily urban votes from the ÖVP, Greens and to a lesser extent the SPÖ. With a tiny budget but a committed membership they have been able to achieve the same result as the multi-million euro campaign of Team Stronach.

Finally and much to many people surprise, especially after the poor showing of their sister party in Germany, the Austrian Pirate Party gained enough support to secure seats in the national Parliament.

Austrian General Election Result (September 2013)

OVP

22.5%

SPO

22.5%

Greens

17.0%

FPO

14.0%

TS

8.0%

NEOS

8.0%

Pirates

4.0%

BZO

2.0%

Others

2.5%

 

 

An interesting set of results but whether this blog post is from our reality or one of the many alternatives we will have to wait until the 29th September 2013 to find out 🙂

 

 

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Salzburg gives boost to Greens in national polls


The first two polls since the SPÖ (Social Democrats) took a hammering in the Salzburg State election show the party losing ground, though they retain first spot in the national polls. Worryingly for the Party, in general election year, this seems to be part of a downward trend. Over the last year or more, each time they have a noticeable drop in the polls they recover but their new average high is lower than before.

Things are a little better for the other half of Austria’s ruling grand Coalition, the ÖVP (conservatives), whose poll ratings remain steady. They topped the polls in three of the four State elections this year but lost more votes than any other party when compared to the previous the elections – new record lows in their wins in Tirol and Salzburg. The positive news for the Party is that polling data shows that those currently supporting the ÖVP are some of the most motivated of the electorate.

The two latest polls below show a small surge for the Greens (centre-left) who have recently been flat-lining in the national opinion polls at 13%. If these results are repeated in further polls then the Greens will make an important breakthrough, moving their average figure above 15%. However, their current average rating shows them only having recovered to the level they achieved at the beginning of January this year.

In both the national opinion polls and State elections it’s been a bad year so far for the (Far-Right) FPÖ. They will be relieved to see that their poll ratings have not dropped any further (down 7.6% points since January 2012).

The party of billionaire Austro-Canadian businessman Frank Stronach, Team Stronach (Populist-Right), have had a mixed time in the State elections and their current average poll rating is down 1.2% compared with January and down 1.6% in comparison to the 11% in the polls when the Party was founded last September. Given the millions spent by Frank already he can’t be happy with the current rate of return on his investment.

Latest polls:

SPÖ 25%,  ÖVP 24%,  FPÖ 19%,  Greens 16%,  Team Stronach: 10%,  BZÖ 2%,  Pirates 2%  (10th May 2013: Market/derstandard)

SPÖ 26%,  ÖVP 25%,  FPÖ 19%,  Greens 15%,  Team Stronach: 9%,  BZÖ 2%,   KPÖ 1%,  Pirates 1%  (9th May 2013; Gallup/Österreich)

 

Current national average ratings based upon last five polls:

SPÖ: 26.8%,  ÖVP: 24.6%,  FPÖ 19.0%,  Greens 14.2%,  Team Stronach: 9.4%,  BZÖ 1.8.0%,  Others 4.2%

Percentage variation across last five polls:

SPÖ: 25%-28%, ÖVP: 24%-25%, FPÖ 19%, Greens 13%-16%, Team Stronach: 8%-10%, BZÖ 1%-2%

Sources:

Market/Standard 10-05-13
Gallup/oe24 09-05-13
Karmasin/heute 03-05-13
Gallup/oe24 28-04-13
Karmasin/profil 20-04-13

 

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