Tag Archives: Tyrol State Election 2013

It’s not often you have an election with no winners!


Eleven party lists stood in last Sundays (28th April 2013) election in Tirol and now with the postal votes added the full picture of political failure is revealed.

Victors?

ÖVP (conservatives): The nominal winners last Sunday. The headlines were all about the ‘success’ of the ÖVP in retaining control of one of it strongholds, securing 39.35% and suffering only a 1.15% point drop in support. However, this result only looks good in comparison to dismal expectations – some of the polls in the weeks before the election were suggesting they could suffer an historical low of 33%.

Poll data indicates that the ÖVP’s victory was based primarily on the ability of its party organisation to get a higher proportion of its vote out in an election with a very low turnout.

On Sunday the ÖVP secured its lowest ever vote share in Tirol and benefited from the failure of the other ten parties to mobile an effective challenge.

Forward Tirol: One of those State parties described by observers as an ‘ÖVP breakaway’ secured a credible 9.54% in their first election campaign – making them the fourth largest party. However, not reaching double figures has left one of their leading members outside the State parliament unless one of their four new MP’s waives their mandate. Reports suggest this is unlikely and there is a real danger of this party ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’ and splitting.

Greens (Centre-left): Vote up by 1.86%, an additional seat in the parliament (5), topped the poll in the City of Innsbruck, and third largest party in Tirol. It all looks good for the Greens except that some polls during the campaign had them as high as 15%.

Tirol suggests that despite ÖVP weakness the Greens remain unable to make inroads outside urban areas and the State results once again simple reflect current national strengthen – not an indication of a further advance in the national elections in September.

An interesting footnote is that the ÖVP have been making positive noises about forming a State coalition government with the Greens though discussion are ongoing with other parties as well.

The big losers

FPÖ (Far-Right): There support may have only dropped 3.07% but for the Far-right FPÖ this was the third election disaster on 2013 and they are now only the fifth largest party. Again an election result in 2013 demonstrates the Party’s weaknesses – a message that is no longer resonating, organisational problems, and competition for protest votes.

Team Stronach (Right-populist): The billionaire Austro-Canadian businessman, Frank Stronach, must be wishing that he didn’t need to spend time away in Canada (he has to spend about 6 months of the year there to maintain his residency status). While he was at home in Canada his Party ended up with three party lists submitted for the election in Tirol. Following the electoral commissions decision on which list to approve, Frank had to go to Tirol to ‘sort things out’. This ended with Frank supporting the approved list but then during the election some of those on the list went public urging voters not to vote for the Team Stronach list. In the end TS gained 3.36% and no seats in the parliament.

List Fritz: A State Party which previously formed the main opposition but without its founder leading the list they dropped 12.74% points and secured only 5.61% of the vote.

Austrian Democracy: The Tirol turnout of 60.4% was the lowest ever in the history of the Austrian Second Republic (154 elections State and Federal elections) despite the electorate having the choice of eleven different parties.

In the latter part of the campaign the ÖVP ran heavily on the theme of ‘Italian chaos’ while other parties played heavily the ‘not the ÖVP’ card. Many in the electorate seem to have decided that without a positive reason to vote they would simple stay at home – this could be the key message of Tirol for all the parties competing in the Federal election in September.

The others

Downward:  SPÖ (Social Democrats) (13.72%) -1.15% but now second largest party; KPÖ (Communist) (0.53%) -0.63%.

Impact: Gurgiser und Team 4.84%; Pirates 0.38%; Für Tirol 0.73%

 

New Tirol Parliament (Seats)

ÖVP: 16

SPÖ: 5

Greens: 5

Forward Tirol: 4

FPÖ: 4

List Fritz: 2

 

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Could the Conservatives ‘win’ the General Election in September?


Less than eighteen months ago the obituaries were being written for the ÖVP but it’s the conservatives who are winning the early rounds in Austria’s ‘super election year’*. Come the General Election in September the Party could be in first place if the current trend was to hold – assuming they don’t break from the governing coalition, force an early election and make a dash for first place while the going is good.

Current average based upon last five polls:

SPÖ: 26.6%, ÖVP: 24.8%, FPÖ 21.2%, Greens 12.8%, Team Stronach: 8.4%, BZÖ 2%, Others 4.2%

Percentage variation across last five polls:

SPÖ: 24%-28%, ÖVP: 23%-26%, FPÖ 21%-22%, Greens 11%-14%, Team Stronach: 7%-10%, BZÖ 1%-4%

Change since 1st January:

SPÖ: -0.4%, ÖVP: +2%, FPÖ +0.4%, Greens -1.2%, Team Stronach -2.2%, BZÖ +0.4%, Others +1%

 

On an upward trajectory

OVP

The ÖVP were seen as clear winners of January’s Conscription referendum, which has galvanised their electoral machine and left the SPÖ internally finger pointing about their preparedness and poor tactics.

The news from Lower Austria, where the Party has an absolute majority in the State parliament, is looking positive with the most recent poll giving the Party 49% support (down from 54.4% at the last election). While an absolute majority may slip away by polling day on the 3rd March, it doesn’t look as though the new competitor, Team Stronach, is having the impact some commentators expected (currently 8%) and you won’t want to put serious money on Governor Pröll and the ÖVP machine failing to maintain their majority.

In the current debate about how good or bad the EU budget negotiations were for Austria, the ÖVP’s attacks on its senior coalition partners performance seems to sit on the same side of the fence as many voters – 44% say EU budget negotiations bad for Austria. Noticeably 49% of SPÖ believe the country is paying too much and 55% of ÖVP take the same view. However, Austrian votes remain strongly in favour of the EU and the move by the traditionally very pro-EU ÖVP to a mildly sceptical (though still pro) position, at a time when the SPÖ has shifted to a stronger pro-EU line, may have longer term disadvantages.

 

BUT…

On the same day as the largest of Austria’s States delivers it verdict on the ÖVP’s absolute majority, the party is likely to record a poor result in the southern State of Kärnten. Here if the polls are correct, the ÖVP may slip from third to fifth place.

The Party’s hopes of improved results in the State elections in Salzburg and Tyrol are by no means guaranteed and they are likely to gain little from the results of the Vienna referendum questions.

The SPÖ remain in first place despite the setbacks of the last few weeks. They have a real possibility of securing first place in the Kärnten State election – breaking the control of the state by the FPÖ’s sister party the FPK. The SPÖ has been polling most strongly in recent months when they have pushed clear positive agenda for instance the pro-EU stance, taking on the FPÖ head on, and their immediate poll ratings didn’t actually yo-yo after the conscription debate. In short, if the SPÖ can stay united and retain a centre-left position (despite the desire of some to shift further left) they are the party mostly likely to secure first place at the General Election.

Additionally, while Team Stronach is primarily in a battle for voters with the FPÖ, any significant improvement in its support is likely to cost the ÖVP a few percentage points. Moreover, as this article in Profil highlights, the ÖVP will also face the threat of losing support to Austria’s new liberal Centrist party NEOS. (The new party, along with the Pirates, could also pose a threat to the Green Party’s chances).

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Winning the election?

My guess is that the ÖVP won’t come out first at the General Election in September. They are, however, most likely to be one of the winners in forming the next coalition government:

Realistic coalition options based on current average polls:

ÖVP/Greens/SPÖ – 64.2%

TeamStronach/ÖVP/SPÖ – 59.8%

FPÖ/ TeamStronach/ÖVP – 54.4%

ÖVP/SPÖ – 51.4%

 

(*Super election year – National conscription referendum; State elections in Lower Austria, Kärnten, Salzburg, and Tyrol; Vienna referendum; Federal General Election).

Sources:

IMAS/Krone 13-02-13
Karmasin/Heute 08-02-13
Gallup/oe24 03-02-13
Karmasin/profil 26-01-13
Gallup/oe24 26-01-13

 

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