Saturday, 28. February 2015
01. 03. 09. - 20:00
By David R. Hill
It was a dramatic Sunday for Austria’s western provinces with the Alliance for the Future of Austria party (BZÖ) defying the doom mongers to claim a landslide Victory in Carinthia, and Social Democrats (SPÖ) pipping the People’s party (ÖVP) to the post in Salzburg.
With the death of firebrand governor Jörg Haider last October, critics had predicted the BZÖ’s iron grip on Carinthia to slip but they came home with an astonishing 45.25 per cent of the vote.
Just a week before the election, pollsters had the BZÖ tied neck and neck with the SPÖ, who before Haider’s rise to prominence had been dominant in the province.
Political analysts had observed that the Carinthia result was impossible to predict as it all depended on how strongly the province had identified with Haider. But the 40 per cent of voters still undecided at that point appear to have swung heavily towards the BZÖ, suggesting either that Haider was not as central to the party’s success as many had thought.
BZÖ Carinthia leader Gerhard Dörfler dedicated his party’s win to its late leader: "This is also a victory for Jörg Haider."
As she handed a framed photo of her deceased husband to Dörfler, Haider’s widow Claudia said: "I am really impressed with the result. It is a major acknowledgment of my husband’s work and of his politics."
SPÖ Carinthia leader Reinhart Rohr however believed the result showed Carinthia had voted for the BZÖ in remembrance of their beloved former governor.
"The results clearly show that a lot of people have voted in memory of Jörg haider," he said, continuing:
"Before we can talk about a crisis in the SPÖ we first need to analyze the individual results and see where there were problems and what the causes were, then we can look at our path for the future."
The SPÖ was left nursing its biggest ever margin loss in the province. Coming in second with 28.64 per cent of the vote, the party was down 9.76 per cent on the provinces last election in 2004. Rohr was reluctant to talk about a possible resignation though, stating: "Reinhart Rohr is not somebody who jumps ship when times get hard."
The pollsters had had an easier time predicting the Salzburg result. The SPÖ were favourites to claim a second successive victory in the province, which traditionally has been black (ÖVP). But few had predicted such a close battle with the ÖVP coming in as runners up just 3.3 per cent behind the Democrats.
The Freedom party (FPÖ) were arguably the biggest winners in Salzburg though, claiming third place with 13.23 per cent of the vote, at the top end of the pollsters predicted 7-16 per cent.
SPÖ Salzburg leader Gabi Burgstaller was aware how much the ÖVP cut into her party’s margin. "Of course I am happy we have remained number one, but on the other hand there are our considerable loses to consider," she said.
Burgstaller said that they would start coalition talks with the ÖVP on Monday, and they were now her priority. "I am of the same opinion I was before the election, we want to start talks immediately with the second strongest party in the election," she said.
Burgstaller appeared to reject the idea of a coalition with the Freedom party. "Even if a red-blue coalition were in theory possible, the first point of call for discussions could only be with the ÖVP and [ÖVP Salzburg leader] Wilfried Haslauer."
Social Democrats (SPÖ) - 39.5%, down 5.5% (on 2004 election)
People’s Party (ÖVP) - 36.21%, down 1.7%.
Freedom Party (FPÖ) - 13.23%, down 4.5%.
Greens - 7.24%, down 0.8%.
Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) - 3.76 % (Didn't exist in 2004)
BZÖ - 45%, up 6% (before split from Freedom party)
SPÖ - 28.8%, down 10%.
ÖVP - 16.7%, up 5%
Greens - 5%, down 1.7%.
» General News 2012-05-23
Austria’s longest-serving governor has been identified as the most capable one in the opinion of citizens.
» General News 2012-05-18
The Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) has finally dismissed the circulating rumours about teaming up with a billionaire businessman.
» General News 2012-05-17
The chances of the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) to avoid dropping out of parliament are waning, according to a new poll.
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