Austria: Leader speculation won’t go away

Oesterreich newspaper published its fortnightly national poll from Research Affairs this weekend, with very little headline change reported among the parties. The populist Freedom Party (FPO) continues to top the list, unchanged on 33 per cent of voting intentions. While the Social Democrats (SPO) and conservative People’s Party (OVP) trade a point, all the changes are well within the maximum margin of error of 4 per cent.

As in other recent polling coverage, Oesterreich remains rather fixated on the possibility of a change of OVP leadership – to put youthful Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz in the party’s ‘Chancellor candidate’ hotseat. This survey goes as far as to ask participants how far they trust Kurz and current Austrian leader Christian Kern (SPO) to deliver on a range of issues including asylum policies, the economy, EU relations and crime. Kurz wins easily by margins of 20 to 30 points in nearly all policy fields except tax, where the two are virtually level, and economic policy where Kern is ahead by 38 to 31 per cent.

In a barometer of personality ratings, Kurz also storms to victory, with a positive score of 52 per cent. Kern trails far behind on +24 along with Defence Minister and party colleague Hans Peter Doskozil, followed by new President Alexander van der Bellen on +15. Current FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache has a terrible personal rating at -23, the second worst of 20 political figures listed – explaining why speculation persists about a change of leadership for the FPO as well.


Voting intentions, Nationalrat, per cent (change on 17 March poll in brackets):

FPO (Freedom Party) 33 (nc)
SPO (Social Democrats) 28 (-1)
OVP (People’s Party) 20 (+1)
Gruene (Greens) 11 (-1)
Neos (New Austria) 5 (-1)
Others 3 (+2)

Fieldwork: 29.03-31.03.2017. Release date: 01.04.2017. Participants: 600.


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