First Austrian Prediction

Normally I turn my hand to electoral predictions in the UK, but these next three weeks I’ll be posting predictions on the forthcoming Austrian elections. It will also give me an opportunity to test out a new image gallery plugin.

If you look at the first graph below, you’ll see my current predictions for the vote on the 28th of September. The predictions are based upon recent opinion polls in Austria, weighted by size and recency. You’ll see that currently the two main parties (Social Democrats – SPÖ – and People’s Party – ÖVP) who were in a coalition (which broke down, hence the new elections) are both running around 27%. This is probably the poorest showing for both parties ever. In third place are the Freedom Party, coming in at roughly 18%, and then the Greens at 12%. The other main parties are also shown. The shaded columns are their results previously.

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Click "next" and you’ll move onto the predictions for seats. Now, a quick word on how these are allocated. The Austrian electoral system is (roughly) D’Hondt with a 4% threshold. This means that unless a party achieves a seat in one of the regional constituencies (which are roughly 4 to 6 seats in size, so a party needs to gain between 16% and 25% of the vote in a constituency to gain one seat), it would need to get 4% of the national vote to be allocated seats on the D’Hondt system. This means that unless minor parties have regional powerbases, they have to work hard to get into Parliament.

Obviously, the more parties that cross the threshold, the more are represented in Parliament (and correspondingly the fewer seats the larger parties get on the same vote). The reason therefore why this election is so interesting is that the Liberals are currently running in the Polls at just shy of 4%, and the new "Citizens’ Forum" ("Fritz" on the chart after it’s leader Fritz Dinkhauser) could yet also manage more than 4%. The picture is complicated even further as the Citizens’ Forum (CF) was a Tirolean splinter of the Peoples’ Party, and there is a very good chance that CF will manage to get into the Parliament even if they don’t pass the 4% threshold, by getting at least one seat in the Tirolean regional constituency.

Press "next" again and you’ll see who the big winners currently are – The Freedom Party (FPÖ). Despite the split with Haider, the FPÖ are starting to see poll levels returning to their successes of the nineties. Although the BZÖ, now led again by Haider, are also seeing an increase in their support, it is really Hans-Christian Strache’s party who have made the most of the mess and squabbling that the Grand Coalition have been mired in for the past two years.

Click "next" one more time and you’ll see that the FPÖ are set to take an extra 16 seats in this election, making them easily the third largest party and finally settling the argument over whether they or the Greens are the third force in Austrian politics.

The resurgence of the two right wing parties is such that if you combine their support the figures for the SPÖ, ÖVP and FP/BZO become approx 28, 26.5, 24. This indicates that right-wing support in Austria is getting back to the levels of the late 90s when the ÖVP famously entered into a controversial coalition with the FPÖ.

And this is probably the most likely outcome of the election. With 183 seats up for grabs, any coalition needs 92 seats to rule. As things stand an ÖVP / FPÖ coalition would come to 91, enough to make a minority government and easily enough to govern with the occasional support of the BZÖ and the CF (if they get into Parliament). Such a result is on the cards, as by all accounts the two ruling parties have had it up to here with each other and won’t govern together again after the vote.

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