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Who won the battle of the alternatives? – EP election note 4


I’ve been having a look at the SORA Institute EP voter analysis in der Standard. I was curious to see how the battle of Austria’s political alternatives played out in the EP2014 election.

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As I’ve described in previous posts, although they may fight amongst themselves, Austrian politics currently breaks down into three camps. In one corner we have the traditional mainstream comprising the governing Grand Coalition parties (Social Democrat – SPÖ – and conservative – ÖVP). The second grouping is the far-right populists (in recent times the FPÖ has succeeded in re-establishing itself as the dominant player surrounded by fringe parties). While in the third corner are the new progressives alternatives (the Centre left – Greens have been joined in this camp by the Liberal Centrist – NEOS).

The headline result of the election was the win for the pro-EU camp comprising the parties of both the traditional mainstream and progressive alternatives – their combined vote securing 73.7%. While the anti-EU populist camp fell back (-10.8%) achieving 24.1% support.

For the FPÖ the election was a significant chance to rock the system by achieving first spot in the polls. In this election they no longer faced the List Martin whose more moderate anti-EU position had secure it 17.67% in 2009 and the other populist parties offered little competition. The prize within its grasp was a clear run at gathering up the 35% who had previously supported the anti-EU camp. When the dust settled it had only secured 19.7%.

This relatively poor FPÖ got me wondering. Hence time spent looking at the SORA figures.

Far-right populists’ vs the traditional mainstream

The first point of interest is the battle between the far-right populists and the traditional mainstream. Looking a net movement of voters between the parties makes interesting reading. Although the traditional mainstream managed to secure first and second in the election, critics in both parties have raised concerns about the performance. However, the governing coalition did manage to make net gains (77K) against the Euro-sceptic camp. A significant switch of List Martin votes helped the traditional mainstream offset losses from far-right populists and the progressives. Moreover while the FPÖ attracted significant numbers of former List Martin and BZO voters, they only secured a combined net gain of 25,000 from the coalition.

OVP

 

Progressive alternatives vs Far-right populists

The progressive alternatives proved much more successful at damaging the traditional mainstream, persuading around 109,000 former SPÖ/ÖVP (28k/74K) voters to switch. They also secured even greater support from the anti-EU populist camp taking approximately 144,000 votes – ex-Martin 100,000; ex-FPÖ 23,000; BZÖ 21,000.

Polls’ looking at the pro/anti EU split show Austrian opinion remains consistent at around the 67/33. The success of the pro-EU ‘progressive alternatives’ in the election is probably therefore a stronger indication of domestic trends than a ringing endorsement of the EU.

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Battle of Austria’s political alternatives

So in the battle of the alternatives it’s the Grünen and NEOS who appear to be winning. The FPÖ numbers may have risen but they have simply wrestled control of a populist camp with at best a volatile base or even worse, for the FPÖ’s longer term future, a diminishing pool of loyal supporters.

In the meantime, the traditional mainstream does not appear ready to give-up just yet.

 

 

 

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Poor return on investment in EU2014 for Austria’s main parties


This piece in the Österreich newspaper caught my eye, 12.8m spent on the EU election.

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When you do the sums for each party it produces a rather depressing answer to the question ‘How important was the party war chest in securing the votes’.

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‘Money talks’ is not a new story. But for strategists, PR consultants and campaign managers, for all five of the main parties in Austria, the table below is stark evidence that their EU campaigns failed to outperform their opponents.

Result 14 €/1%
24.1 3307 137
27 3705 137
19.7 2707 137
14.5 1987 137
8.1 1116 138

 

So at party HQ’s in recent days has the message been recognised? Are campaign strategies being revisited and policies reviewed? Or are the various leaderships content to play politics of ‘high investment for low returns’ in which results rely of the war chest?

If Frank Stronach did one thing for Austrian politics at the last general election it was to demonstrate that actually ‘money won’t guarantee votes’, you need policies and a decent campaign. The upcoming State elections, in the next twelve months, will give the parties the chance try to break through the € barrier. The ‘return on investment’ in campaigning might just be worth it.

 

2014-05-25 09.39.21

 

 

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Comparing Austria EP2014 results with GE2013 & EP2009 – election note 1


Austrian EP2014 results and change from previous elections:

Party EP 2014 Result Change from General Election 2013 Change from EP 2009
ÖVP – conservatives (Governing Coalition) 27% +3 -3
SPÖ – Social Democrats (Governing Coalition) 24.1% -2.7 +0.4
FPÖ – Far-Right Populist 19.7% -0.8 +7
Grüne – centre-left 14.5% +2.1 +4.6
NEOS – Liberal-Centrist 8.1% +3.2 *n/a
EU-STOP – Eurosceptic, far-right 2.8% n/a **+2.8
Europa Anders – Alliance of Communists, Pirates, & The Change – Left 2.1% ***+0.3 n/a
REKOS – Eurosceptic, far-right 1.2% n/a n/a
BZÖ – ‘moderate’ FPÖ 0.5% -3.1 -4.1

 

Not competing in EP 2014 election:

List Martin (Eurosceptic) – EP2009 17.7%

Team Stronach (Populist) – GE2013 5.7%

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Notes

*Party formed in 2012

**First election

***Figure based on combining Communist & Pirates results.

 

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What will a good result look like on EU election night in Austria?


Austrian politics in going through a significant period of change, what the new ‘norm’ will look like is very much open to question. That’s why this week’s EU election matters to the Parties more than ever. The general election last September marked the end of the paradigm that has dominated politics here in recent years; the EU election marks the first battle in a struggle for a place in the newly emerging political landscape.

Even before the EU election results are announced the Parties will begin their efforts to spin the results. To help you make sense of the chatter, here is a quick guide to what a good, average or even disastrous result will be for each of the Parties in Austria:

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Governing Grand Coalition

SPÖ

The larger of the two parties that form the ruling ‘Grand Coalition’, the Social Democrats are currently polling at around the same figure as they achieved at the last EU election.  To date they have had a good election with their poll ratings up since January.

Good result: Securing 1st place in the polls but with a lower percentage than secured in last year’s General Election.

Bad result: 2nd place with lower percentage than secured in last EU election.

Great result: 1st place in the polls but with 27% or more share of the vote.

Disastrous result: 3rd place.

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 24.4% is down 5.6% on that election result. Since January their polling average has dropped by 1%.

Good result: Retaining 1st place.

Bad result: Coming 2nd with a lower share of the vote than secured in the 2013 General Election.

Great result: Retaining 1st place with a share of the vote above 25%.

Disastrous result: Dropping to 3rd place or 2nd with either NEOS or Greens securing 15% vote share.

Progressive Alternatives (Click for blog post)

Grünen

The Greens are currently 3.4% up on their last EU election result but have remained unchanged in the polls when compared to January.

Good result: Retaining fourth place and matching their share of the vote in last Septembers General Election.

Bad result: Slipping into fifth place.

Great result: Securing a 15% or more share of the vote.

Disastrous result: Securing less than 12% of the vote and coming fifth.

NEOS

The Liberal Centrist party broke into the national parliament at the first attempt last September with just under 5% of the vote. Suffered a bad penultimate week of campaigning but looks to be bouncing back in final days. They share with the SPÖ the status of having increase vote share in the polls since January.

Good result: More than doubling their share of the vote compared with the last General Election.

Bad result: Securing less than 10% share of the vote. (Given polling figure in last 6 months anything less would be seen as underperforming)

Great result: Securing fourth place or achieving 15% vote share.

Disastrous result: Securing less than 7% share of the vote.

Populists

FPÖ

Currently up by 7.7% on the last EU election (when the List Martin stole the anti-government show and the BZÖ remained a real political force) the FPÖ has seen its average poll rating slip (-2%) compared to its New Year performance.

Good result: Securing 2nd place.

Bad result: 3rd place with a vote share below 25% (Party has no serious Populist competitors this time and last EU election EU-sceptic populists secured 34.96%)

Great result: 1st place with over 25% share of vote.

Disastrous result:  3rd place with a vote share of under 21%

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%.

Good result: Securing 6th place and 4% vote share.

Bad result: Securing 6th place with less than 3.5% of vote

Great result: Anything over 4%

Disastrous result: Failing to achieve 6th place.

REKOS

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

Good result: Securing +3% vote share

Bad result: Less than 3% vote share

Great result: Securing 6th place

Disastrous result: Achieving less than 1% vote share.

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.

Good result: Securing 1% of vote share.

Bad result: Less than 1% of vote share

Great result: +1% of vote share

Disastrous result: n/a

The other alternative

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%.)

Good result: Securing 6th place

Bad result: Less than 3% vote share.

Great result: Achieving 4% vote share.

Disastrous result: Less than 2.5% vote share.

 

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In sight of the finishing line and in Austria only the EU looks certain to win


It’s time for the last big push from all the parties before Austria goes to the polls on 25th May in the EU parliamentary elections. How are they doing as we enter the final week?

Current polls

Average figures based on last five EU polls:

  Polls Av Now Euro 2009 Change
SPO 24.6% 23.74% 0.9%
OVP 24.4% 29.98% -5.6%
FPO 20.4% 12.71% 7.7%
Greens 13.3% 9.93% 3.4%
Martin 0.0% 17.67% -17.7%
NEOS 11.8% 0.00% 11.8%
BZO 1.3% 4.58% -3.3%
REKOS 1.0% 0.00% 1.0%
Ander 2.5% 0.00% 2.5%
EU-STOP 0.0% 0.00% 0.0%

 

Notes: Martin List not contesting this election; EU-STOP not registering in the polls; NEOS contesting first EU election.

Variations in the last five polls:

  Lowest Highest
SPO 23% 26%
OVP 23% 26%
FPO 20% 21%
Greens 12% 16%
NEOS 10% 14%
BZO 1% 2%
REKOS 0% 2%
Ander 1% 3%
EU-STOP 0% 0%

 

Movement in the polls

The far-Right FPÖ have, after the scandal earlier in the campaign, nudged their poll ratings back into the 20’s but show no signs of advancing. They are -2% in comparison to their January ratings.

All the recent poll movements are between the governing Grand Coalition parties (Social Democrat – SPÖ – and conservative – ÖVP) on one side and the progressives alternatives (Centre left – Greens – and Liberal Centrist – NEOS) on the other.

Currently the strength of the three groupings of progressive alternatives; traditional mainstream; and the populists are:

Polls Av Now
Greens NEOS 25.1%
SPO OVP 49.0%
FPO BZO/REKOS/EUSTOP 22.7%

 

Good news for pro-EU campaign

Based upon the average figures from the most recent polls, parties with a broadly pro-EU position are up +10.5% 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 12.3%.

 

 

Sources:
Unique Research/profil 17-05-14
Gallup/oe24 15-05-14
Hajek/ATV 15-05-14
Market/DerStandard 14-05-14
OMG/Kurier 11-05-14

 

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Mapping the changes in the inter-party battlegrounds of Austrian politics


I’ve had a go at mapping the inter-party struggles that currently define the world of Austrian politics and the shifts in the battlegrounds since the general election. Think it’s a reasonable depiction:

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Austrian General Election Result 2013 – % share of vote

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Austrian national poll averages 1st May 2014 – % share

The growth of the FPÖ has come from the collapse in support for other Populist parties Team Stronach (TS) and the BZÖ. They are failing to advance against either of the Grand Coalition ruling parties (the Social Democrat, SPÖ, or the conservative ÖVP) despite their current problems.

The growth in support for NEOS (the Liberal Centrists) has seen them pushing, as they did in the General Election, primarily against the ÖVP and Greens. But the battle grounds with the SPÖ are opening up and will be particularly interesting come the 2015 State election in Vienna.

Despite the growth of NEOS, the Greens have made a small advance since the General Election. The battle grounds with the SPÖ will become even more important if NEOS continue to take the centre ground on the left as well as the right. However, a leftward move might risk not just battles grounds with the Pinks but also those with the ÖVP.

The SPÖ faces a continued fight with the FPÖ for the title of ‘Workers Party’. This looks like it will be one of the major battlefield for both parties. The FPÖ is stuck; it’s trying to widen its appeal and believes it can make further advances in this area. The SPÖ seems to want to make a fight of it and could recapture lost ground with the right strategy.  If they fail red squares will be turning blue. But they will also have to address the pressure from both the Greens and the Pinks; it’s going to be a difficult balancing act. Oh yes, those orange squares on the left. Not much of a threat now but move to far in fighting the FPÖ or the centre and the Left might finally find the breathing space they’ve been looking for.

Austrian politics may get stuck at times but its rarely boring.

 

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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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