|Disenchanted young and working class voters fuelled the surge of Austria's far-right parties in the weekend elections, provoking a political earthquake by punishing both the mainstream left and right, analysts said yesterday. The Freedom Party and the Alliance for Austria's Future, seizing on voters angered by the failed coalition of Social Democrats and conservatives, took nearly one-third of the votes in Sunday's general elections.|
The Social Democrats (SPOe) and the conservative OeVP, still finished first and second, respectively, but posted the worst results in their histories in an election dubbed the "great shake-up" by the daily Die Presse. "It's very simple: voters protested against the paltry performance of the partners in the former 'grand' coalition," said political analyst Peter Hofer.
The coalition collapsed in July after 18 months of stalemate, leading to the snap elections. "Austrians were furious to a rare extent and they voted full of anger," said a Standard newspaper editorial.
The SPOe fell under the 30 percent mark for the first time ever, with 29.7 percent of the vote, while the OeVP picked up 25.6 percent of the ballots, a nearly nine-point drop from its score in the 2006 elections. The far-right's Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache, took third place with 18 percent-
a seven-point rise from 2006 - while the Alliance headed by Jorg Haider nearly tripled its result from two years ago with 11 percent.
The radical right's two leaders are known for their populist rhetoric and anti-immigration stance, both having vowed to defend the rights of "true Austrians." They have warned against the "Islamification" of society, posing as the defenders of low-income families, democratic freedoms and Austrian neutrality.
But for this election, they wooed voters concerned with their wallets by focusing on concerns with the high cost of living and unemployment amid the global financial crisis, analysts said. "They put their xenophobic rhetoric on the back burner to favor social issues, which became the main concern of voters," said University of Vienna political analyst Emmerich Talos.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Young, working class fuelled Austria's far-right surge
EU: Lower the voting age didn't help the left like they thought it would in the end.