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Right-wingers on the rise

The Freedom Party (FPÖ) would come second in a general election these days, according to a new survey.

OGM said yesterday (Sun) that the right-wing faction of Heinz-Christian Strache ranged around 27 per cent at the moment while Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger’s People’s Party (ÖVP) would bag 25 per cent. The FPÖ came third in the most recent federal ballot in 2008. At that time, Strache’s Eurosceptic faction claimed 17.5 per cent.

The FPÖ called for a luxury tax to restore the state’s budget. It also appealed to the SPÖ-ÖVP coalition to finally start urgently needed reforms. Strache accused SPÖ boss Werner Faymann and ÖVP Finance Minister Maria Fekter of failing to act in a beneficial manner to Austria in the European context by giving the go-ahead to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

Faymann made clear he would not allow populist forces to destruct the EU. He warned that a collapse of the Eurozone would mean increasing costs for the domestic economy, a slack in exports and soaring unemployment. Spindelegger also underlined that his party would not leave its pro-European path. However, the foreign minister caused irritation among fellow ÖVP members by claiming Austria could do without an own European Commissioner if the European Union (EU) decided to slim down its administration and bureaucracy to save costs.

The SPÖ is seen at 29 per cent by OGM. After having been behind the ÖVP for some time, the left-wing party – which was in opposition to the government between 2000 and 2007 – is back on top in polls this year thanks to a campaign calling for higher taxes on Austria’s rich. Faymann has called for a tax on financial transactions for around two years. He said such a measure would be a reasonable first move of the EU’s planned initiative for stricter financial market restrictions.

The Greens range around 14 per cent at the moment, according to OGM. The pollster saw the opposition party, which is headed by Eva Glawischnig since 2008, at 11 per cent at the beginning of last year. The Green Party managed to become more popular by the middle of 2011 when one after another European country said farewell to nuclear technology following the disaster at Fukushima, Japan. However, analysts have said the Austrian Greens were still struggling to convince everyone who backs their policies to support them in elections.

The Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), which was established seven years ago, would win only four per cent of the overall vote in elections at the moment. This would be just enough to stay in parliament. The share would be a massive loss to the BZÖ compared to its strong performance three years ago. The party garnered around 10.7 per cent in the most recent federal ballot. Late FPÖ leader Jörg Haider headed its campaign at that time. He passed away only weeks after the ballot which is seen as his final of many comebacks following periods of being marginalised in Austrian politics.

The Austrian government fears of falling out with voters by agreeing to unpopular measures in an attempt to avoid a worsening of the country’s financial condition. Experts have called on the Social Democrats and the conservative ÖVP to increase the number of Austrians who retire at the regular pension age instead of several years earlier. Researchers have warned about sky-rocking pension system costs if the coalition failed to reach a turnaround.

Another aspect which poses a threat to the country’s fiscal structure is the intense business activity of Viennese banks in Eastern Europe (EE). Experts have warned that the state could not cope with a collapse of one or more finance institutes. Austria’s funds to nationalise any of the banks operating in EE might not be large enough. The EE region could fall back into recession in the coming years while the Eurozone, which was created 10 years ago, braces for stagnation.

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