As expected, the far right — Heinz-Christian Strache’s Freedom Party (FPOe) (above, left) and Joerg Haider’s Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZOe) (above, right) — has done very well in the national election in Austria (birthplace of Mister Hitler).
- Extreme right emerges as strong force in Austria
September 29, 2008
Austrian center slips as far right wins votes
International Herald Tribune
September 28, 2008
The two major parties — the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and Christian Democrats (ÖVP) — have jointly ruled Austria since the end of WWII. In addition to cultivating xenophobic and nationalist sentiment, the far right has been able to capitalise upon the increasing convergence of the two — who will likely form another ‘Grand Coalition’ to rule Austria until the next election — as well as more general discontent with government corruption and ineptitude. According to AFP, “In a last-minute bid to demonstrate their decision-making abilities, the various parties approved on Wednesday a package of laws — expected to cost some three billion euros (4.38 billion dollars) — raising family aid and pensions and abolishing university tuition fees.” The results should give ♥ to activists of the far right across Europe, and follows similar developments in the neighbouring states of Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
VIENNA (AFP) — Austria’s two ruling parties, the Social Democrats and conservatives, received a severe drubbing in a snap general election here Sunday, which was marked by a resurgence of the far-right.
As of 7:00 pm (1700 GMT), two hours after the polls closed, the interior ministry calculated that the Social Democrat SPOe managed to hold on to first place, garnering 29.9 percent of votes.
But the reading represented a drop of 5.4 percentage points from the previous election in October 2006 and was the SPOe’s lowest score since the end of World War II.
The conservative OeVP’s losses were even more dramatic, plummeting 8.3 percentage points to 26.0 percent.
Both parties lost votes to the far-right FPOe and BZOe parties, with the Freedom Party (FPOe) under Heinz-Christian Strache seeing its vote-share surge by 7.1 percent to 18.1 percent while Joerg Haider’s Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZOe) saw its score more than double to 9.8 percent.
The Greens slipped slightly to 9.9 percent.
The estimate was made on the basis of 81.4 percent of votes cast.
Turnout at 78.5 percent was the same as in the last election in October 2006. Some 6.1 million Austrians were entitled to vote.
Of the 183 parliamentary seats, the Social Democrats would hold 59, the conservatives 51, the Strache’s Freedom Party 35 and both Haider’s BZOe and the Greens would hold 19 seats apiece, the ministry calculated.
Observers said the clear swing to the right stemmed from voter dissatisfaction with the constant bickering and political in-fighting that characterised the outgoing “grand” coalition.
Under Social Democrat Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, the two parties seemed incapable of passing legislation on even the simplest projects.
By contrast, the last week of campaigning was marked by a marathon parliament session last Wednesday, in which parties mixed and matched in various unconventional alliances to approve a flurry of new legislation on anti-inflationary measures, family aid, pensions and the abolition of university tuition fees.
Forming a new government could prove extremely difficult.
A repetition of the left-right coalition of Social Democrats and conservatives seems the most likely solution, but both sides will have to ensure that political paralysis is not allowed to return…