2019 Austrian legislative election
The 2019 Austrian legislative election will be held on 29 September and will elect the 27th National Council. This snap election was called in the wake of the collapse of the ruling ÖVP–FPÖ coalition and the announcement of Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache's resignation on 18 May 2019, following the Ibiza affair.
All 183 seats in the National Council
92 seats needed for a majority
The 2017 legislative election was called four years into a grand coalition between the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), prompted by the demand of newly elected ÖVP leader Sebastian Kurz for a snap election. Though the SPÖ won 52 seats, as it did in the 2013 election, the ÖVP and FPÖ made large gains, increasing by 15 seats to 62 and 11 seats to 51, respectively, making the former the largest party at the federal level. NEOS gained a single seat, the Peter Pilz List entered the National Council with 8 seats, and the Greens fell short of the 4% threshold and lost all 24 seats. Following the election, President Alexander Van der Bellen asked Kurz to form the next government, and the ÖVP initiated exploratory talks with the other parties in the National Council. The ÖVP officially started coalition negotiations with the FPÖ on 25 October, agreeing on a five-point roadmap. Negotiations drew towards a close in late November, and the parties announced a coalition agreement on 15 December, with the coalition government led by Kurz sworn in on 18 December.
On 4 November 2017, Peter Pilz announced that he would not take his seat after accusations of sexual harassment. On 11 June 2018, Pilz returned to the National Council and was sworn in after accusations of sexual harassment were dropped by the state prosecution. His return was made possible by the resignation of another member of the National Council, Peter Kolba, who stepped down after significant disputes within the List Pilz. The swearing-in ceremony of Pilz was met with heavy resistance, because almost all female representatives walked out of the parliament room as he was about to be sworn in.
On 7 May 2018, Matthias Strolz announced that he will step down as leader of NEOS and hand over the party leadership in June, citing personal reasons and a successful period for the party since creation in 2012 with steady electoral gains during his term. On 23 June 2018, party delegates elected Beate Meinl-Reisinger as the new leader of NEOS during a meeting in Vienna.
On 20 August 2018, Maria Stern was elected new party leader of the List Pilz during a party meeting in Vienna. During the meeting, members also agreed to rename the list, for which a PR agency was hired. On 19 November 2018, the List Pilz presented their new name: "JETZT" (or "NOW", in English).
On 18 September 2018, opposition leader Christian Kern announced that he would resign as leader of the Austrian Social Democrats. On 22 September 2018, former Minister of Health Pamela Rendi-Wagner was designated as the new chairwoman of the Social Democratic Party, officially becoming the party leader after a delegate vote at a party convention on 24 November 2018. She is the first female leader of the SPÖ.
Ibiza affair and snap election announcementsEdit
On 17 May 2019, a secretly recorded video was published of a July 2017 meeting in Ibiza, Spain, which appeared to show the then opposition politicians Heinz-Christian Strache and Johann Gudenus discussing their party's underhanded practices and intentions. In the video, both politicians appeared receptive to proposals by a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch, discussing providing the FPÖ positive news coverage in return for government contracts. Strache and Gudenus also hinted at corrupt political practices involving other wealthy donors to the FPÖ in Europe and elsewhere.
On 18 May, Strache announced as a result that he would resign as FPÖ leader and vice chancellor, with Norbert Hofer replacing him as FPÖ leader.
On 3 June, Brigitte Bierlein and her independent technocratic interim government was sworn into office by President Alexander Van der Bellen. Her government consists of 12 members, instead of 16 during the Kurz government.
On 12 June, the election date was eventually set for 29 September with the votes of SPÖ and FPÖ, while the ÖVP was opposed to such a late date and favouring early September instead. It was decided that the snap election would not be held during the summer holiday season and that it should not coincide with state elections in Vorarlberg, possibly held on 22 September.
The 183 members of the National Council are elected by open list proportional representation at the level of one federal constituency consisting of all of Austria, 9 state constituencies, and 39 regional constituencies. The number of seats elected by each constituency is determined in accordance with the results of the most recent census. Seats are allocated in a three-stage process, from regional constituencies to state constituencies to the federal constituency. For parties to receive seats in the National Council, they must either win a seat in at least one constituency or clear a 4 percent national electoral threshold. Seats are distributed according to the Hare method in the first two stages, at the level of regional and state constituencies, with the remaining constituencies allocated using the D'Hondt method at the federal level to ensure proportionality with the election result.
In addition to voting for a national party list, voters have the option of casting three preferential votes capable of changing the order of precedence for candidates on a party list: one each at the federal, state, and regional level. The threshold to increase the position of a candidate on a federal party list is 7 percent, compared to 10 percent at the state level and 14 percent at the regional level. Preferential votes for candidates on regional party lists may be indicated by marking the given spot on the ballot, whereas the name or ranking number must be provided for preferential votes for party list candidates on the state and federal level.
Per Article 26 and 27 of the Federal Constitutional Law, the National Council must be convened by the President no later than 30 days after the most recent election. The standard duration of the legislative period of the National Council is five years, by the end of which it must be renewed through an election on a Sunday or a public holiday. Because the inaugural meeting of the 26th National Council took place on 9 November 2017, as determined by President Alexander Van der Bellen, the latest date on which the next legislative election could have been held would be 6 November 2022.
The table below lists parties represented in the 26th National Council.
|ÖVP||Austrian People's Party
|Christian democracy||Sebastian Kurz||31.5%|
62 / 183
|SPÖ||Social Democratic Party of Austria
Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs
|Social democracy||Pamela Rendi-Wagner||26.9%|
52 / 183
|FPÖ||Freedom Party of Austria
Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs
|Norbert Hofer (acting)||26.0%|
51 / 183
|NEOS||NEOS – The New Austria and Liberal Forum
NEOS – Das Neue Österreich und Liberales Forum
10 / 183
JETZT – Liste Pilz
8 / 183
Parties or lists which have announced to seek ballot accessEdit
- Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ)
- The Greens – The Green Alternative (GRÜNE)
- Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ Plus)
Ballot access requirementsEdit
In order to contest the election nationwide, a party (or list) is required to obtain either the signatures of three MPs in parliament or to collect 2,600 valid signatures from eligible voters ahead of the elections.
Parties are also able to contest the election in individual states only. For this, they need to collect the following numbers of signatures:
- 100 – Burgenland, Vorarlberg
- 200 – Carinthia, Salzburg, Tyrol
- 400 – Upper Austria, Styria
- 500 – Lower Austria, Vienna
Parties are able to collect the signatures between 9 July and 2 August. The state and federal election commissions will then validate the signatures and announce the qualified parties.
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