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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."

2006-03-09

Yes 

Carl Bildt (the conservative Swedish ex-PM): Simplistic Xenophobia in Austria
There are many strange aspects to the Austrian situation. On the one hand, it's one of the countries where public hostility to European Union enlargement, and in particular to Turkey, is strongest. The two major parties ÖVP and SPÖ are, sorry to say, competing in negativism concerning Turkey. It's only the Greens that dare to think otherwise.
But on the other hand, Austria is one of the countries that has profited the most from membership in the Union and in particular from enlargement.
...
I am convinced that there are many Austrian that feel positively ashamed.
I do hope that they make their views known - and that it preferably be heard outside their borders too.
Yes on all points, although I for one am not so much ashamed as perennially annoyed.

2006-03-04

Kindergarten painting 

At some point during the last thirty years, kindergartens seem to have changed.


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