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National Election 2006

This analysis is based on an election day polling by SORA in cooperation with Ifes.

Voter turnout

Voter turnout in the 2006 Austrian national elections has reached an all-time low; all parties lost ground to the non-voters. The big parties were most affected, whereas the ÖVP lost over 200,000 and the SPÖ about 180,000. But also the little parties experienced losses by abstention; the Greens lost 100,000 and the FPÖ a little more.

National Election 2006 in detail

SPÖ wins on issues

The SPÖ champions key issues, and, as a consequence, wins the election also. Unemployment, social justice, education, health etc. are of crucial importance to the voters and have been given as main reasons by SPÖ supporters for their choice of party.

SPÖ mobilises core voters with social issues

The SPÖ's leadership amongst the employed population is what makes it this elections' winner. The SPÖ is also strongest party amongst workers and employees. It was able to mobilise its core voters by addressing health (two-tier medical system), youth unemployment and general unemployment, pensions, equal opportunities and the pressing care situation.

New votes won

The SPÖ was able to attract new voters especially by raising the issues of tuition fees and the cancellation of the Eurofighter deal. Voter transition The SPÖ experiences its biggest losses by abstention and to the FPÖ, whereas it attracts most votes amongst former ÖVP supporters.

ÖVP unable to profit from chancellor bonus

The ÖVP fails to receive any benefit from the so-called chancellor bonus and loses the election. The people's dissatisfaction with the overall performance of the ÖVP chancellor is one of the three main reasons of its defeat.
ÖVP mobilises core voters with economy-related issues
Although having managed to mobilise its core voters by addressing economic growth and budgetary balance, its losses in supporters among the employed population prevent it from maintaining their status as number one.

Main reasons for ÖVP defeat

The ÖVP owes its defeat mainly to the following three reasons: dissatisfaction with the chancellor Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel, a rejection of a possible coalition with the Greens as well as popular approval for the opposition's claims (cancellation of the Eurofighter deal, repeal of tuition fees). The ÖVP loses votes to all other parties and fails to attract an equal amount of voters from them in return.

FPÖ becomes a single issue party

Supporters of the FPÖ were attracted by its policy on foreigners and its negative attitude towards an EU-membership for Turkey. After the BZÖ's secession, it is the FPÖ who remains the stronger party due to its intact party structure in the provinces and its networks of right-wing organisations.
The FPÖ experiences growth by gains from the two big parties and thus manages to level out its losses to the BZÖ and the non-voters.

Greens win in strongholds and mobilise core voters

The Greens recruit their supporters mainly from the educated young in urban areas and it is their core issue ecology which wins them most votes. Greens supporters also wanted to vote against a harsher policy on foreigners and matters of justice. The Greens lose most voters by abstention, but manage to level out its losses by having attracted many ÖVP voters.

BZÖ almost reduced to Carinthian provincial party

The BZÖ averted disaster by narrow escape - though absentee ballots may still turn the tide and prevent it from taking its seats in parliament. Its stronghold is clearly Carinthia, of which party founder Jörg Haider is provincial governor. BZÖ supporters claim him to be the reason for their choice three times as often as front-runner Peter Westenthaler. The BZÖ also scores with its policy on foreigners, if not as much as the FPÖ. It derives a third of its votes from the latter, and another third from the ÖVP.

Other parties

In contrast to the last EU elections, the issues raised by Hans Peter Martin seemed to be of little matter to the voters. Moreover, national elections tend to be less of an outlet for protest voting. Hans Peter Martin attracts votes from all other parties, least so from the Greens.

The KPÖ wins most votes in Styria, although it cannot live up to its fantastic results from the latest Styrian provincial and municipal elections.

The most important issues are education, employment and pensions
Austrians consider education, employment and pensions as this election's key issues. Also considered very important by the voters are equal opportunities, protection of the environment and tax breaks for small and middle income households. This preference shows that both the SPÖ and also the Greens were most sensitive to the population's pressing issues.
The following observations can be made in context with the importance of education-related issues in this election: The Greens particularly scored amongst the educated young, and the FPÖ accomplished to recruit those affected by the government's education policy amongst former ÖVP voters.

BAWAG

The BAWAG affair has definitely had most impact on the initial situation of this election campaign. The ÖVP entered the confrontation in an evident leading position, whereas the SPÖ had to confine itself to challenge. At the end of the campaign, however, BAWAG had ceased to be a central issue.

Speculations on possible coalitions

The Greens are the underdog of the coalition speculations. The "Red-Green" ticket mobilises SPÖ supporters, the "Black-Green" ticket ÖVP supporters far more than it does mobilise Green voters. In contrast to the 2002 elections, the left scare failed to be a major vote winner.

Voter Transition Analysis

The SPÖ has also lost votes to the non-voters, if to a lesser extent than the ÖVP (143,000). 119,000 of its 2002 supporters opted for the FPÖ this time, whereas it attracted 42,000 of the latter's former supporters. Losses to the FPÖ are covered for by gains from the ÖVP. Overall, the SPÖ has lost less votes to the FPÖ than did the ÖVP. With 80%, the SPÖ clearly has this election's highest loyalty rate.

The ÖVP has lost 172,000 votes by abstention. Furthermore, it has lost about 100,000 votes to each the SPÖ, the FPÖ and the Greens. The BZÖ has also gained a lot of votes from the ÖVP (60,000). On the other side, the ÖVP hardly won any votes from its competitors. The ÖVP's loyalty rate is 72%, i.e. seven out of every ten ÖVP voters of the 2002 national elections have cast their vote for this party again.

The Greens have attracted many former ÖVP supporters: Each fifth of their 2006 supporters was recruited from the ÖVP. These gains, however, are levelled out by their losses to the non-voters, as 15% of Green supporters of 2002 decided not to go to the polls this time. The Green's loyalty rate is 69%.

The FPÖ lost more than a fifth of its 2002 supporters by abstention. Another 75,000 were lost to the BZÖ. The FPÖ's loyalty rate amounts to only 49%, which means that every second of its last time supporters has now cast their vote either for another party or the non-voters. The FPÖ obtained their gains mainly from the big parties.

The BZÖ obtains a third of its voters from the ÖVP, another third is got from the FPÖ.

Hans Peter Martin will not be represented in Parliament. His voters mainly come from the ÖVP, the SPÖ and the so-called Others.

The so-called Others are composed of the KPÖ, which run for election on a nationwide ticket, and other parties only campaigning in certain federal provinces. None of the parties put together into this group for display purposes of the voter transitions won enough votes to be represented in Parliament.

Chart 1: Voter transitions for the 2006 national elections, in absolute numbers over 1000 votes

SPÖ '06

ÖVP '06

Greens '06

FPÖ '06

BZÖ '06

Martin '06

Others '06

Non-voters '06

total  '02

SPÖ '02

1472

24

26

119

25

30

11

143

1851

ÖVP '02

96

1545

112

102

60

45

14

172

2147

Greens '02

19

15

338

15

10

10

8

72

487

FPÖ '02

42

10

18

248

75

19

3

93

508

Others '02

15

1

12

10

5

19

18

12

93

Non-voters '02

20

19

14

26

18

10

7

908

1022

total '02

1664

1616

520

520

194

132

62

1399

 

e.g. of the 2002 SPÖ supporters, 1,472,000 voted again fort his party, 24,000 voted for the ÖVP, 26,000 voted for the Greens, etc.

 

Chart 2: Voter transitions fort he 2006 national elections, in percent

 

SPÖ '06

ÖVP '06

Greens '06

FPÖ '06

BZÖ '06

Martin '06

Others '06

Non-voters '06

total  '02

SPÖ '02

80%

1%

1%

6%

1%

2%

1%

8%

100%

ÖVP '02

4%

72%

5%

5%

3%

2%

1%

8%

100%

Greens '02

4%

3%

69%

3%

2%

2%

2%

15%

100%

FPÖ '02

8%

2%

3%

49%

15%

4%

1%

18%

100%

Others '02

16%

2%

13%

11%

6%

21%

19%

13%

100%

Non-voters '02

2%

2%

1%

3%

2%

1%

1%

89%

100%

e.g. of the 2002 SPÖ supporters, 80% voted again for this party, 1% voted for the ÖVP, 1% voted for the Greens, etc.