‘Dirty’ campaign leaves Austria’s SPO trailing in third

In the final campaign poll from Research Affairs, Austria’s most regular pollster, the Social Democrats of the SPO continue to trail in third place behind the centre-right OVP and the populist Freedom Party (FPO). There is a minor uptick of a sole percentage point for the party of current premier Christian Kern, but nothing to suggest that the march to victory on Sunday of Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz’s rejunvenated OVP will be stopped.

The three smaller party lists continue to struggle just above the 4 per cent hurdle, which they must clear to enter the Vienna federal parliament.

A battery of secondary questions indicates that the SPO’s hopes of a late turnaround are very slim. Respondents to the poll rate the ‘mood’ surrounding the party as very negative (79 per cent bad, 21 per cent good) compared to positive scores for the OVP and FPO. Only 14 per cent say the Social Democrats have run the best campaign, against 30 per cent for the FPO and 29 per cent for the OVP. Kern himself trails third on the question of who is the best TV performer, behind Kurz and FPO leader Heinz Christian Strache.

On the always revealing ‘wisdom of crowds’ question, 62 per cent are convinced Kurz will win Sunday’s election, compared to 17 per cent for Strache and 15 per cent for Kern.

The root of the SPO’s campaign slump lies clearly in allegations surrounding an Israeli political adviser and the creation of ‘fake’ websites. Indeed, the public seems to regard the entire campaign as particularly negative by Austria’s usually upright standards. But when asked the unusual question of ‘who fought the dirtiest campaign?’ some 50 per cent of voters handed the dubious title to the SPO. Another 20 per cent each told Research Affairs that the OVP and FPO were the dirtiest: not flattering, but a long way behind the SPO.


Right-right coalition?

In the event of the expected win for Kurz, voters clearly favour a coalition with the FPO (40 per cent). The option to govern with the Greens and NEOS (New Austria) is backed by 18 per cent, while 17 per cent favour the traditional grand coalition of OVP and SPO. Bringing the populists into government might be internationally controversial, but it seems more plausible than involving the struggling smaller parties who may not achieve the parliamentary numbers in any case.


Voting intentions, Nationalrat, per cent
(change on 5 October poll in brackets):

OVP (People’s Party) 33 (-1)
FPO (Freedom Party) 27 (nc)
SPO (Social Democrats) 23 (+1)
Neos (New Austria) 5 (nc)
Gruene (Greens) 5 (-1)
‘Liste Pilz’ 5 (nc)
Others 2 (nc)

Fieldwork: 06.10-08.10.2017. Release date. 09.10.2017. Participants: 1000. Methodology: Online poll. Media partner: Oesterreich. More coverage here.


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