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2006-03-13

Are the Austrian socialdemocrats to blame for the xenophobes' votes? 

Pollsters suggest this is the case, as the results of last week's popular petition "Austria, remain free" have just been announced (258,277 votes, or 4.3% of the electorate, more or less as expected).

According to one poll, the people who signed the petition in one of the magistrate's offices across the country expressed the following voting preferences in a general election:

SPÖ (socialdemocrats) 33%
FPÖ (the right-populist organisers of the petition) 22%
ÖVP (conservatives) 18%
Others or undeclared 27%

Even if we assume that the real percentage of FPÖ-voters among the signers is closer to 30%, since these people routinely are too embarrassed about their voting preference to not lie about it, this is a very high reading for SPÖ-voters. (In the latest polls for general elections, the figures are approximately SPÖ 41%, ÖVP 36%, FPÖ 7% [again, FPÖ 10% may be more likely].)

According to Peter Ulram [DE], an ÖVP-leaning pollster:
..the main group of the supporters of the petition - pensionists and workers - comes directly from SPÖ voter groups.

As a motive for the signature, the dominant theme according to Ulram is rejection of an EU-entry of Turkey, followed by the opinion that there were "too many foreigners" living in Austria. More relevant than the petition is its message, according to Ulram: "The signature of so many SPÖ-voters means that the synchrony in the EU-critical rhetoric of SPÖ and FPÖ apparently removes the barriers between these parties." For Ulram, a moment of déjà-vu: "A similar phenomenon was in evidence in the 90s in the foreigner topic and in the anti-foreigner petition back then.
Yet, the fact that more SPÖ-voters fall prey to the FPÖ's poison does not imply that the SPÖ as a party bears more responsiblity for the general political situation than the conservatives (and to a lesser extent, the other political parties). The conservatives' cynical manoeuvering with the issue of Turkish EU-entry should not be forgotten here. No, it's a frustratingly familiar picture with political responsibility widely distributed across the country."


3 comments:

I am not sure, and am certainly not an expert, but surely the primary responsibility lies with the people, not with the political parties? And if they feel that things are going too fast and they are not being consulted (after all thge vote in favour of the Constitution in the Nationalrat was a travesty given public opinion) then do they not have a point?
 

I am not that kind of expert either, but I am confident that the arrow of causation between the behaviour of the political elite and popular sentiment points in both directions. Clearly it is more satisfying to confront the elite with its share of the responsibility. At least that's what we bloggers usually pretend to be able to do.
 

hi there.
"too many foreigners" versus "jobs that Austrians won't take."
i wonder where is the competition between an austrian and an immigrant.
people use this reasoning as a scapegoat for their misery and the politicians abuse it.
 
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