Austrian Parliamentary Election 2017

On Sunday, October 15, Austria has elected a new Parliament. – After this evening, the majority of voting cards (889.193 have been issued) still remains to be counted from Monday, October 16. SORA provides a prognosis of the final result here.

Analysis and motives

The ORF/SORA/ISA election day survey among 1.219 eligible voters shows which motives moved voters in this election.

Dissatisfaction and wish for change mark this election

As the election day survey shows, dissatisfaction with the government and the country’s path in the past five years have marked the mood among voters:

  • When asked about Austria’s development in the past, more than four out of ten respondents (45%) say that there has been a negative trend. (only 17% perceive improvements, and 37% see no changes).
  • Therefore, 72% of respondents say that they are not satisfied with the work of the Federal Government (46% rather not, 26% not at all).

Although being part of the government, the List Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has been successful in translating this mood into votes:

  • Kurz receives 34% of the vote among those not satisfied with the government, that is similar to the Freedom Party (35%) and much more than the Social-Democrats (SPÖ, 14%).
  • Therefore, the List Kurz can mobilise traditional conservative voters as well as some of the protest vote.

Asylum and integration on top of the agenda

Throughout the election campaign, the topics of asylum, migration and integration have been most discussed in TV confrontations and have been on top of the agenda of the ÖVP Liste Kurz and the Freedom Party (FPÖ).

  • As the election day survey shows, asylum/integration has also been the most discussed topic in the electorate (58% say they discussed it “very often”).
  • Second most discussed topic are “social benefits” (49% “very often”), a topic that has often been linked to asylum in arguments for cutting social benefits for asylum seekers.

Further voting motives

Kurz with personalisation strategy

When asked about the “main reason” for voting for their party, 42% of Kurz-supporters said it was the “leading candidate”. Far less important was the motive of “party positions” (15% “main reason”).
The topics most discussed among Kurz-voters have been asylum/integration (55% very often discussed) and social benefits (41%). Kurz has promised taking a strict stance on both issues.

Social-democrats: party positions and leading candidate equally important

For SPÖ-supporters, leading candidate Kern as well as the party’s positions have been important voting motives.
Throughout the election campaign, SPÖ-voters discussed most about social benefits (57%), asylum/integration (48%), jobs (45%) and health care (41%).

Freedom Party: protest and pessimism

86% of Freedom Party (FPÖ) voters perceive Austria’s development in the past five years negative and 81% are pessimistic about the future, i.e. they say that the younger generation’s lifes will be worse than today.
Asked about their main voting motive, 34% of FPÖ-supporters said it was party positions followed by the FPÖ being a watchdog (12%). Leading candidate Strache was mentioned by only 5% as their main voting motive.
Often discussed topics among FPÖ-voters during the campaign were asylum/integration (88%), security (69%) and social benefits (60%).

Separate analysis for other parties not possible due to sample size.

Who voted for whom? Voting by socio-demographic groups

The election day survey shows differences in voting behaviour of various socio-demographic groups.

Differences by age

Both ÖVP and SPÖ performed better among older (60+) than younger voters (16-29 year-olds). Freedom Party and Greens, on the other hand, performed better among the young.

Differences by formal education and occupational status

Among blue-collar workers, the Freedom Party came in first with 59% of the vote (SPÖ: 19%, ÖVP: 15%)

  • Therefore, the FPÖ succeeded most in speaking to the political mood among blue-collar workers: More than 80% of blue-collar workers are dissatisfied with the Federal Government, and 54% say that Austria is rather an “unjust” society.

Among white-collar workers, the List Kurz receives 31%, among self-employed 41%.

Among voters with secondary degree or university education, the List Kurz receives 38% of the vote in front of social-democrats (27%).

Which party in a coalition government

Respondents were also asked which parties they would prefer in a coalition government.

Among all respondents, 64% want the ÖVP in the government, 43% the FPÖ and 44% the SPÖ.

  • ÖVP-supporters prefer a coalition of the ÖVP with the FPÖ (39%).
  • FPÖ-supporters prefer a coalition of the FPÖ with the ÖVP (60%).

Feelings about democracy and the EU

Concerning Austria’s EU membership, respondents want to stay but want Austria pursue its national interest stronger:

  • 42% agree strongly and 26% fairly with the statement „There are more benefits than drawbacks for Austria being a member of the EU“.
  • 62% agree strongly and 24% fairly with the statement „Austria should pursue its national interest in the EU much stronger”

Finally, respondents show a strong support for democracy:

  • 72% agree strongly and 22% fairly with the statement “Democracy may have its problems but it is better than any other form of government”.

Voter transition analysis

The SORA analysis shows voter transitions from the previous national election in 2013. Major trends are:

  • High voter dynamics: Every third voter shifted between parties
  • List Kurz mobilises 84% of People’s Party (ÖVP) voters from 2013. Substantial additional gains from Freedom Party, Team Stronach, Greens, NEOS as well as social-democrats and BZÖ.
  • Social-Democrats mobilise 76% of their voters from 2013. Strong gains from Greens (161.000) as well as non-voters form 2013 (including persons who have not been eligible voters in 2013)
  • Freedom Party with gains from SPÖ (155.000 votes), ÖVP (96.000), Team Stronach (97.000) and BZÖ (94.000). Losses of 168.000 votes to List Kurz.
  • Greens only mobilise 25% of their voters from 2013. Losses towards social-democrats, List Kurz, NEOS and List PILZ.