Some early thoughts on the meaning of yesterday's election result in Austria (socialdemocrats 35,7%, conservatives 34,2%, far-right FPÖ 11,2%, Greens 10,5%, far-right BZÖ 4,2%, big coalition socialdemocrats-conservatives certain due to lack of arithmetically possible and politically thinkable alternatives):
- There is no internationally interesting angle to this result.
- The return of the big coalition will bring a lowering of political interest, especially since the economy is in relatively good shape. It is a pleasant result for people who don't care about politics, and a bad one for those who do, bloggers included.
- The next election after four years of big coalition will be a feast for the far-right, with the likely consequence that either a big coalition will continue for at least eight years now, or that the far right will regain a share of power in four years time.
- There are two big projects that can justify a big coalition at this time: the necessary modernisation of the education system, and a big reform project for the exaggerated federalism in the Austrian public administration.
- The only opposition worth speaking of will be the Greens. They can expect gains, although not as much as the far right, which means that they will remain locked out of a government role in four years too. Two counter-strategies offer themselves: To increase Green populism, which is what will happen in the short-term; or to organise in such a way that the Greens can become a real third force in the Austrian political system, which means a programmatic turn to the cultural mainstream. This will be far more difficult to achieve than the populist alternative, but it is the only political project of any interest in this country for the next four to eight years. It is also a political project that even in case of success will yield no visible results for at least two to three years.