Thursday

22nd Oct 2020

Austria coalition re-elected, but anti-EU parties gain

  • Werner Faymann hopes to remake the centrist coalition (Photo: SPÖ)

Austria's centrist coalition led by Chancellor Werner Faymann scored a razor-thin majority in Sunday's (29 September) elections, with anti-EU populists and right-wing nationalists boosting their ranks in the Alpine country.

The two main centrist parties - Faymann's Social Democrats (SPO) and the centre-right People's Party (OVP) - together got only 50.9 percent of the vote, their worst score since the Second World War.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The vote is enough to remake the grand coalition that has been governing Austria since 2008, but OVP chief and foreign minister Michael Spindelegger is suggesting tough negotiations as he does not rule out talks with other parties.

"Voters gave us a warning note. We cannot carry on as before," Spindelegger said.

Meanwhile, populist anti-EU parties have grown to a combined 27 percent in a country where people can vote from the age of 16 and stand as candidates once they are 18.

The anti-euro, anti-immigrant Freedom Party (FPO) scored its best result since 1999, with 21.4 percent of the vote, under the leadership of 44-year old Heinz-Christian Strache, whom supporters call "HC."

Strache, who is similar in style to the late right-wing nationalist Joerg Haider, appeals to young and rural voters with his simple discourse emphasising the rights of Austrians over immigrants, the illegality of euro-bailouts and his country's possibility to quit the euro.

Haider's party, BZO, failed to make it into the parliament, scoring only 3.6 percent.

But a new populist party led by 81-year old businessman Frank Stronach managed to enter with 5.8 percent of the vote. "Team Stronach" campaigned on splitting the euro along national lines, "because a German or Austrian euro is worth more than a Greek one" and having the death penalty reintroduced for "professional hit men."

Another newcomer to the Austrian parliament is the liberal Neos party, which scored 4.8 percent of the vote - over the four-percent threshold to make it into the legislature. The Greens are also represented in the parliament, having garnered 11.5 percent of the vote.

This article was corrected to say that FPO had its best result since 1999, not its best result ever.

Austrian far-right in fresh push for EU respectability

Buoyed by their recent success in the polls, the Austrian and French far right have made a fresh push for respectability in the European Parliament. A blurring of the 'softer' far right with eurosceptic parties may be in the offing.

Austrians give landslide to Social Democrat president

Austria's incumbent Social Democrat president, Heinz Fischer, won a second six-year term in office on Sunday, with 79 percent of the vote. But a far-right candidate, Barbara Rosenkranz, known for opposition to the country's Holocaust denial laws that had dominated election news, in the end captured only 15 percent.

Haider's daughter to run in EU elections

The daughter of the late far-right Austrian politician Joerg Haider has announced she will run in the European Parliament elections for the eurosceptic Alliance for the Future of Austria.

France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder

Muslim NGOs targeted by the France's retaliatory response to the brutal murder of a schoolteacher claim the government is labelling "innocent Muslims as 'Islamists" just to be able to say that they are doing something".

News in Brief

  1. Commission to press Croatia on migrant 'abuse' at border
  2. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  3. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19
  4. MEPs restrict CAP funding for bullfighting
  5. Coronavirus: Liège is 'the Lombardy of the second wave'
  6. UK to keep out EU nationals with criminal past
  7. Report: EU to restrict travel from Canada, Tunisia, Georgia
  8. Pope Francis supports same-sex civil unions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  2. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  3. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups
  4. France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder
  5. All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter
  6. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  7. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  8. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us