Austrian socialists and right-wing populists doing poorly in polls

Austrian Socialist Party (SPÖ) leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner. Like in Germany, Austrian social democrats are currently doing pooorly in the polls. (epa/Christian Gruber)

Austria’s expert government is now in place. Now the question arises: when should a new government be elected? An analysis by Herbert Vytiska for EURACTIV Germany.

Within just a few days, the designated Austrian interim chancellor Brigitte Bierlein succeeded in setting up an expert government that enjoys the support of all parliamentary parties.

The question now is when new elections should be held.

Alfred Noll, a member of the Jetzt party, which split from the Greens, wrote on Twitter that the technical government should be allowed to govern until the end of the legislative period in autumn 2022.

This is a clear affront to President Alexander Van der Bellen, who prefers new elections to take place in early September. Noll literally suggests that the “Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ ) and the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) could easily put the brakes on Kurz: All they have to do is abstain from voting in September and Mr Kurz stays in the hole he had dug himself”.

Kurz doing well in the polls, while SPÖ and FPÖ are not

According to polls published by three opinion research institutes this weekend, 71% of voters are in favour of new elections taking place in autumn. Until then, the SPÖ and the FPÖ are facing difficult times, as both parties are experiencing a serious drop in the polls.

Similar to the German Socialist Party (SPD), this has also triggered a debate in the SPÖ about the leadership qualities of party leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner. To be on the safe side, however, she has already been nominated to be the top candidate for the upcoming National Council elections.

While the SPÖ and the Greens are making concrete plans to reverse some of the laws from the ÖVP-FPÖ government era – including by introducing a general smoking ban – the youngest former chancellor has largely withdrawn from public life.

In the meantime, polls confirm a growing sympathy for him. Instead of 31.5% in the last parliamentary elections, the ÖVP would now receive between 36% and 38%.

The SPÖ, on the other hand, dropped from 27% to 21-23%, and the FPÖ from 26% to 17-21%.

In contrast, the Greens have reached 10%, compared to 3.5%, and the New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS) have also seen an increase from 5.3% to 10%.

For the Jetzt list, however, it appears clear why it is not looking forward to new elections: the party currently has no chance of gaining new seats in parliament, as it only has a 1% approval rate.

Will Strache become an MEP?

The mood about future government formation is also quite interesting.

A three-way coalition between the ÖVP, the Greens and the NEOS has a 30% approval rate. A good 24% are convinced in the renewal of ÖVP and FPÖ. Support for the so-called Grand Coalition is only at 14% and an SPÖ-FPÖ alliance only has a 9% approval rate.

The Ibiza video-scandal, which ultimately triggered the no-confidence motion against a transitional ÖVP’s government and provoked a government crisis, has had a clear effect on Austrians: 72% find the former Vice-Chancellor and FPÖ leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, to be reprehensible. However, 53% consider it unacceptable that he was led into such a trap.

Strache himself has not yet given up. After receiving more than 40,000 preferential votes, he is even entitled to an EU mandate.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

Austrian Greens are showing signs of comeback

Across Europe, green parties have benefited from the fact that the climate crisis has become the focus of attention, including in Austria. The Austrian Green Party,  which has had no seats in the national parliament since 2017, is now gearing up for snap parliamentary elections in autumn. EURACTIV Germany reports.

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