Vienna City Council Elections 2015

What moved Vienna? Results of the ORF/SORA/ISA election day survey

The ORF/SORA/ISA election day survey among 2.045 eligible voters show the city’s quality of life and the refugee crisis on top of voters‘ concerns in this election.
The Freedom Party gains voters who are angry about how politics dealt with the refugee situation thus far, as well as voters concerned about a decreasing quality of life in Vienna.
Persons who are confident about political answers to the refugee crisis and Vienna’s quality of life voted mainly for the city government coalition parties, i.e. the social democrats and the Greens.

Satisfaction with the city government

The red-green city government coalition is positively appraised by a majority of 54% of all respondents in the ORF/SORA/ISA election day survey.
Around 90% of voters of the social-democrats and the Greens said they are very or rather satisfied with the coalition government. All other declared party voters see the coalition rather negatively.

High vs. decreasing quality of life?

A majority of around two thirds of the Viennese think that their city has all in all a very high quality of life. This is a drop of 12 percentage points compared to the mood in 2010 when the last city election took place and 78% saw a “very high quality of life” in Vienna.
Looking at differences between declared party voters, there is a deep cleavage between Freedom Party supporters and all others: 63 percent of the Freedom Party supporters perceive a strong decrease in quality of life in Vienna; among the supporters of the other parties, over 70 to 94 percent perceive a high quality of life.

Refugee crisis on top of the agenda

The single most discussed topic by voters in this election campaign was “refugees and asylum” (65% very frequently discussed). This topic dominated the debates in the population way before “security and crime” and “economy and jobs” (each 33% very frequently discussed) and was the single most debated topic among the declared voters of each party.

Emotions associated with refugee politics

As the election day survey shows, the supporters of the various parties were moved by rather different concerns and emotions towards refugee politics:
Persons who are rather confident that politics can tackle the current challenges associated with refugees voted primarily for the social-democrats and the Greens. Persons angry about current refugee politics, on the other hand, voted mainly for the Freedom Party.

Voting motive “leading candidate” and who should become Vienna’s next mayor

Looking at the leading candidates of the various parties, the election day survey shows that especially incumbent mayor Michael Häupl and Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache were able to convince their voters.
Michael Häupl is also clearly in the lead when it comes to who the Viennese want as the next mayor: 54% said that he should lead the city in the coming five years. Heinz-Christian Strache is named by 29% of respondents as their preferred future mayor (almost exclusively so by Freedom Party voters).

Preferred coalitions for Vienna

A relative majority of 36% prefer another red-green coalition for the future. Among voters of the social-democrats, 65% want this coalition, and 81% among supporters of the Greens.
A coalition of the social-democratic (SPÖ) and the Freedom Party is preferred by 49% of Freedom Party voters but only by five percent of SPÖ-voters.

Voting behaviour by subgroups

Extreme differences by opposing perception of quality of life in Vienna

The most pronounced differences in voting behaviour can be found depending on whether voters perceive a decreasing or a high quality of life in Vienna:
Among those perceiving decreasing quality ofl ife, the Freedom Party gained 76% of the vote (SPÖ: 12%, ÖVP: 7%). – Among voters perceiving a high quality of life, the Freedom Party came in with 13% far behind the SPÖ (51%), and also the Greens (16%).

Gender differences

Gender differences are less pronounced in this than in previous elections. Only the social-democrats show a slightly better result among women than men. While in previous elections the Freedom Party was especially strong among young men, this is not the case in the Vienna election 2015. 

Differences by age

Differences by age are most prominent among voters of the Greens, the NEOS and the People’s Party (ÖVP): While the ÖVP was about twice as strong among persons 60plus than under thirty, the Greens and the NEOS are far better among younger voters.
The SPÖ und the FPÖ show less pronounced age differences with both parties receiving stronger results among older than younger voters.

Differences by migrant background

Austrian citizens born abroad were more likely to vote for the social democrats (52%) with the Freedom Party only getting 17% of the votes in this group.
Voting behaviour of second-generation immigrants differs less from the population at large: The SPÖ and people’s party was slightly weaker in this group and the Greens and the NEOS stronger.

Voting behaviour in municipal housing (Gemeindebau)

Municipal housing in Vienna was founded by the social-democratic party in the 1920s. Today, around 500.000 Viennese are living in a Gemeindebau flat offering affordable rents.
If only persons living in the Gemeindebau had voted, the Freedom Party would have won the election with 47% in front of the social-democrats with 42%. All other parties hardly received votes in the Gemeindebau.

Voter transitions

The SORA analysis shows voter transitions from the previous city council election in 2010. Major trends are:

  • Social democrats (SPÖ) lose 33.000 votes to the Freedom Party (FPÖ). This represents 10% of the SPÖ voters from 2010. – Gains for social-democrats from non-voters from 2010 (27.000 votes) and from the Greens (16.000 votes)
  • Freedom Party gains 33.000 votes from social-democrats, 29.000 from non-voters and 17.000 from the people’s party
  • People’s party mobilizes only half of their voters (52%) from 2010; losses of 19.000 votes (representing 18% of people’s party voters from 2010) to NEOS, 17.000 to Freedom Party and 11.000 to social-democrats
  • Greens win 25.000 from non-voters from 2010 (including young first-time voters in 2015) but lose 16.000 votes to the social-democrats and 11.000 to the NEOS
  • New in the city council: NEOS gains most votes from ex people’s party (19.000) and ex-Green voters (11.000). 10.000 NEOS votes are non-voters from 2010 (including first-time voters in 2015)