Social Democrats triumph in elections in Austria – debacle for FPÖ

WORLD NEWS

Four winners and two big losers on the right: the state elections in Vienna strengthened the social democrats in their stronghold. FPÖ and the HC Strache team became almost meaningless.

According to ORF projections, the social democrats in the capital Vienna clearly won the most important election this year in Austria. The right-wing FPÖ, on the other hand, experienced a historic debacle.

The SPÖ of Mayor Michael Ludwig comes in its stronghold to 42 percent of the votes – that is an increase of 2.4 percentage points compared to the election five years ago. According to the information, the right-wing populists lost more than two-thirds of their voters compared to the record result of 2015 and only got 7.7 percent (minus 23.1 percentage points). One reason for this is the fragmentation of the right camp. The former FPÖ boss Heinz-Christian Strache came up with his own list and should fail with 3.6 percent at the 5 percent hurdle.

ÖVP with big profits

The Greens steer with 14.1 percent (plus 2.3 percentage points) in the vicinity of their record result. The conservative ÖVP celebrated big gains – after a poor performance five years ago. It climbed 9.5 percentage points to 18.8 percent. “We have moved up from fourth to second and have achieved the greatest gain in the history of the ÖVP,” said top candidate and finance minister Gernot Blümel. ÖVP boss and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pointed out that it was the eighth successful state election in a row for the ÖVP.

The liberal Neos did passably with a slight gain of almost eight percent. According to previous statements, the Neos want to enter into a coalition with the SPÖ as a junior partner.

Since 2010 the city with its almost two million inhabitants has been ruled by a red-green alliance. The relationship among the coalition partners is considered tense. The victory of Ludwig, who took over from long-term mayor Michael Häupl in 2018, was attributed not least to commentators to his balancing and central course. “He is Angela Merkel from Vienna,” said the editor-in-chief of the news magazine “Profil”, Christian Rainer.

Expert does not see a national trend

The success in Vienna does not go to the account of the Federal SPÖ under party leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner, said the political scientist Peter Filzmaier on ORF. From the point of view of the SPÖ voters, urban politics and the person of the mayor played a central role.

For Strache, the state election in Vienna was a first acid test for his political comeback. Originally he had aimed for a double-digit result in his hometown. “If we do not manage to move in, it could be the end of Strache’s political career,” said a member of his team at the newspaper “Kurier”. “There is no plan B,” said Karl Baron from the HC Strache team on ORF.

The FPÖ and Strache had fallen out after the Ibiza and the expenses affair of the ex-FPÖ boss. Strache had appeared open to corruption in a compilation of the Ibiza video, after the publication in May 2019, he resigned as Vice Chancellor and party leader. A few months later, he was accused of using party funds for private purposes. Strache denies that. The relationship with the FPÖ has nevertheless been destroyed by the scandals.

It can take until Tuesday until the official final result. The more than 380,000 voting cards will only be counted on Monday. However, the extrapolations already take into account the likely voting behavior of postal voters. More than 1.1 million citizens were called to vote.

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