Tag Archives: Karnten

Small tremors from regional elections hit national poll ratings


The State elections in Lower Austria and Kärnten, held on the 3rd March 2013, have produced only small tremors but as yet no earthquake in the national opinion polls. However the political analysis of the aftermath, combined with the coverage of infighting and reassessments in some parties, may well accelerate various trends in the coming weeks.

For the SPÖ (Social Democrats) the big win in Kärnten has contributed to a small percentage point movement upwards giving them 28% and 28% in the two polls since the elections.

Retaining its absolute majority in Lower Austria has seen the ÖVP (conservatives) consolidate its position as the second party in the polls with 24% & 25% respectively.

The crisis ridden FPÖ (far-Right) will probably be pleased that after the catastrophe in Kärnten and the poor performance in Lower Austria that their share of the vote has not significantly dropped, scoring 21% and 20%. However, even before the disaster of 3rd March they had already seen their position eroding over the last twelve months. Their leadership will be holding even more crisis meetings if (as seems quite likely) their poll ratings move regularly below the 20% mark.

Despite some progress in the two State elections the Green party (centre-left) will be concerned that the national polls have them back on 13% and 13%. This is up on their last general election performance of 10.4% but is down on the 15% they were scoring in some polls a few months ago.

Team Stronach (populist – right of centre) had particularly high levels of press coverage in the two State elections but only scored moderate results of 9.8% in Lower Austria and 11.2% Kärnten. The coverage and results have given them a 2 point boost nationally, 11% and 10%.

The story of the other party currently in the Austrian Federal parliament, the BZÖ, still looks like one of slow death. However, the coverage of the campaign in Kärnten has given them a 1 point lift 3% and 2% in the two most recent polls.

Current average based upon last five polls:

SPÖ: 27.6%, ÖVP: 24.6%, FPÖ 21.4%, Greens 13.0%, Team Stronach: 9.6%, BZÖ 1.8%, Others 2.0%

Percentage variation across last five polls:

SPÖ: 27%-28%, ÖVP: 24%-25%, FPÖ 20%-23%, Greens 12%-14%, Team Stronach: 8%-11%, BZÖ 1%-3%

 

Related story: Will history see 3rd March 2013 as the date when the Austrian Far-Right began its fall into oblivion?

 

Poll sources:

Market/Standard 11-03-13
Gallup/oe24 07-03-13
Karmasin/profil 23-02-13
Gallup/oe24 23-02-13
IMAS/Krone 13-02-13

 

 
 
 

Poll sources:

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Will history see 3rd March 2013 as the date when the Austrian Far-Right began its fall into oblivion?


Crisis, catastrophe, internal feuds, disaster, power struggle, confusion, these are the words being associated with Austria’s Far-Right Freedom Party (FPÖ) following the outcome of State elections in both Lower Austria and Kärnten.

In Kärnten the FPÖ’s sister party, the FPK, saw its support collapse by 28% percentage points, from 45% to just under 17%:

Election result

FPK – 16.9%

SPÖ – 37.1%

ÖVP – 14.1%

Greens – 12.1%

Team Stronach – 11.2%

BZÖ – 6.4%

Others – 2%

The result follows major scandals and leaves the FPÖ significantly damaged in one of the only two (of Austria’s nine) states where the Party is a major force. The loss of a significant amount of state (party) funding will further weaken the Party in what is Federal election year (due to take place on the 28th September).

It will worry the FPÖ that many of their voters switch to the SPÖ (Social Democrats) and to the new player on the right of Austrian politics, Team Stronach (TS -populist, right of centre). Other previous supporters simple stayed at home. If the results are an indication that nationally the SPÖ can reconnect with a section of the FPÖ voter base, while TS can scoop up their protest voters, then FPÖ faces major threats to its ambitions.

In Lower Austria the FPÖ’s share of the vote declined by just 2 percentage points but they only managed 4th place, behind TS and barely ahead of the Greens:

Election result

ÖVP – 50.8%

SPÖ – 21.6%

Team Stronach – 9.8%

FPÖ – 8.2%

Greens – 8%

Others – 1.6%

This election was seen by the media as a duel between the ÖVP and State Governor, Erwin Pröll and TS founder, the Austro-Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach. In the end Erwin Pröll retained the ÖVP’s absolute majority while the FPÖ campaign was squeeze to death in his battle with Frank Stronach.

The two elections show that the FPÖ can no longer take for granted the protest vote, this now has the option of Team Stronach. Already the party appears to be shifting back into the more vehement anti-immigration, social conservatism, and anti-EU version of its rhetoric. We can expect this to get worse as they seek to retain their core vote. Interestingly they appear to be moving to a more clearly EU withdrawal position in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the more mildly Euro-sceptic TS. The problem for the FPÖ is that this is a defensive approach; the strategy has previously been shown to hamper the further growth of their support.

Prior to the election results I was reading comments in the press about the dangers of a backlash from the FPÖ’s right-wing against the party leader Heinz-Christian Strache. His initial response to the election results was to press for the integration of the FPK into the FPÖ and for changes in the leadership of the State party in Lower Austria. A few days later the former looks unlikely and newspapers are reporting Strache’s U-turn in Lower Austria – fulsome support for the leadership. It would appear that divisions will continue to underpin the FPÖ and their leader remains vulnerable going into two further State elections and the general election.

Interestingly the first national opinion poll  since last Sunday shows FPÖ support dropping. Unless thing change significantly I may soon be writing about the FPÖ being overtaken by the Greens and/or Team Stronach – but I’m a natural optimist 🙂

 

 

 

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Bilingual place names agreement


The saga of German/Slovenian place name signage has been going on in the Austrian state of Karnten for decades but it now seems to finally be coming to an end. I’ve always found the objections to bilingual signage rather odd (especially when the issue is covered in the Austrian State Treaty). The article from the Austrian Times below provides a little more detail on the agreement that been reached. I was also interested to note that at the end of the piece are stats for different minorities in Austrian and that the largest group are the 213,000 Germans.

 http://www.austriantimes.at/news/General_News/2011-04-27/32672/Bilingual_place-name_signs_controversy_settled

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Filed under Austrian Politics, Out and about in Karnten, Politics