Early Austrian election decision prompts ‘earthquake’ in polls

The first opinion research since this week’s agreement among Vienna’s parties to hold an October General Election shows an enormous movement in favour of Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz’s People’s Party (OVP). Described by one commissioning newspaper as an ‘earthquake’, the twin polls today from Unique Research and Research Affairs show 10 and 13 point gains respectively for the OVP compared to the previous polls at the end of April.

This is the first time for two years that the centre-right OVP has led in any national polling in Austria. The shake-up comes after the OVP spent the early months of 2017 lagging in third place, well behind coalition partners the Social Democrats (SPO) and the opposition populist Freedom Party (FPO).


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Both the SPO and FPO fall significantly in today’s polls, although the coming parliamentary campaign will very much remain a three-cornered affair. Meanwhile the Greens remain in single figures in the wake of damaging internal splits and criticism of their policies on migration.

A third poll was published earlier this week by the Meinungsraum agency, although fieldwork for that was carried out prior to Tuesday’s decision to hold an early election. This poll too shows the OVP in pole position, five points ahead of the SPO and six points in front of the FPO.

There is little mystery behind the OVP’s turnaround: it lies in a tough new approach to immigration and integration, as well as in the personal popularity of Kurz. The 30-year old formally took over as party leader last Sunday from Reinhold Mitterlehner. Research Affairs puts Kurz at 31 per cent on the ‘best Chancellor’ question, ahead of current incumbent Christian Kern (SPO) at 29. Heinz-Christian Strache of the FPO is way behind both of these on just 15 per cent. Meinungsraum in its survey asks who voters would support in a hypothetical direct election for the country’s leader: here Kurz leads Kern by 35 to 25 per cent, with Strache trailing on 16 per cent. In both surveys Eva Glawischnig of the Greens underpolls her party’s support.

Meinungsraum also asks voters what they feel will be the dominant issues in the coming campaign. At 61 per cent, ‘Refugees and Integration’ is the most commonly named issue, practically double the next most cited, employment. Austria’s attitude to Erdogan’s Turkey, and its role within the EU also appear in the top five themes.


Voting intentions, Nationalrat, per cent
(change on 28 April poll in brackets):

OVP (People’s Party) 35 (+13)
FPO (Freedom Party) 26 (-6)
SPO (Social Democrats) 20 (-8)
Gruene (Greens) 9 (+1)
Neos (New Austria) 7 (+1)
Others 3 (nc)

Fieldwork: 16.05-18.05.2017. Release date. 19.05.2017. Participants: 600. Methodology: Online poll. Media partner: Oesterreich.


Voting intentions, Nationalrat, per cent
(change on 27 April poll in brackets):

OVP (People’s Party) 33 (+10)
FPO (Freedom Party) 26 (-6)
SPO (Social Democrats) 26 (-2)
Gruene (Greens) 8 (-1)
Neos (New Austria) 5 (-1)
Others 1 (-1)

Fieldwork: 15.05-18.05.2017. Release date. 19.05.2017. Participants: 800. Methodology: Mixed telephone and online poll. Media partner: Heute. Comparative 27 April poll was carried out for Profil. Full tables here.


Voting intentions, Nationalrat, per cent

OVP (People’s Party) 32
SPO (Social Democrats) 27
FPO (Freedom Party) 26
Gruene (Greens) 6
Neos (New Austria) 6
Others 2

Fieldwork: 12.05-14.05.2017. Release date. 17.05.2017. Participants: 800. Methodology: Online poll. Figures exclude Don’t Know, Won’t Say, Undecided etc. (18 per cent of original sample). Media partner: Radio Wien. Full tables on the Meinungsraum website here.


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