2017 Austrian legislative election

Legislative elections were held in Austria on 15 October 2017 to elect the 26th National Council, the lower house of Austria's bicameral parliament. The snap election was called when the coalition government between the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) was dissolved in May by the latter party's new leader Sebastian Kurz.

2017 Austrian legislative election

← 2013 15 October 2017 2019 →

All 183 seats in the National Council
92 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout5,120,881 (80.0%)
Increase 5.1%
  First party Second party Third party
  Sebastian Kurz (2018-02-28) (cropped).jpg Kern Portrait (cropped).jpg 2017 ORF-Elefantenrunde (37410230120) (cropped).jpg
Leader Sebastian Kurz Christian Kern Heinz-Christian Strache
Party ÖVP SPÖ FPÖ
Leader since 15 May 2017 25 June 2016 23 April 2005
Last election 47 seats, 24.0% 52 seats, 26.8% 40 seats, 20.5%
Seats won 62 52 51
Seat change Increase 15 Steady Increase 11
Popular vote 1,595,526 1,361,746 1,316,442
Percentage 31.5% 26.9% 26.0%
Swing Increase 7.5% Increase 0.1% Increase 5.5%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Mlinar, Strolz and Meinl-Reisinger at the NEOS FEST Vienna 2013-05 (cropped).jpg Vienna 2013-07-31 Stadtpark 392 Peter Pilz (cropped).jpg Ulrike Lunacek April 2014 (cropped).jpg
Leader Matthias Strolz Peter Pilz Ulrike Lunacek
Party NEOS PILZ Greens
Leader since 27 October 2012 26 July 2017 19 May 2017
Last election 9 seats, 5.0% Did not exist 24 seats, 12.4%
Seats won 10 8 0
Seat change Increase 1 Increase 8 Decrease 24
Popular vote 268,518 223,543 192,638
Percentage 5.3% 4.4% 3.8%
Swing Increase 0.3% New Decrease 8.6%

Map of the 2017 Austrian legislative election.svg
Results of the election, showing seats won by state and nationwide. States are shaded according to the first-place party.

Chancellor before election

Christian Kern
SPÖ

Elected Chancellor

Sebastian Kurz
ÖVP

The ÖVP took a strong lead in opinion polls after Kurz's confirmation as leader, and emerged as the largest party in the election, with 31.5% of votes cast and 62 of the 183 seats in the National Council. The SPÖ finished second with 52 seats, just ahead of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), which received 51 seats. NEOS was fourth with 10 seats. The Greens failed to meet the 4% electoral threshold and were ejected from parliament for the first time since entering in 1986, losing all of their 24 seats. The Peter Pilz List, which had split from The Greens at the start of the campaign, won 4.4% and 8 seats.

Sebastian Kurz claimed victory on election night.[1] Incumbent Chancellor and SPÖ leader Christian Kern announced that he was willing to consider a coalition with the FPÖ, though he said that the likelihood of such a coalition was very small.[2] Kurz was formally invited to form a government on 20 October, and began coalition talks with FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache four days later. Negotiation teams on both sides were established to work on a coalition agreement.[3] The talks proved to be successful and led to the formation of the first Kurz government on December 18.

BackgroundEdit

Conservative ÖVP party leader Reinhold Mitterlehner resigned on 10 May.[4] On 14 May Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz was unanimously elected new leader of the ÖVP by the federal party committee and called a snap election. Kurz announced the creation of an independent (but ÖVP-backed) list for the elections under the name "List Sebastian Kurz - The new People's Party", which would be open to non-ÖVP experts or otherwise-interested people.[5]

Green Party leader Eva Glawischnig resigned from all her offices on 18 May, citing family and health-related reasons but also increasing political pressure over the last months following the expulsion of the Young Greens from the party, as well as the coming challenging election campaign.[6] On 19 May, the Green Party committee unanimously elected current Tyrol state party head Ingrid Felipe as its new party leader. However, MEP Ulrike Lunacek was chosen as the party's candidate for the Chancellorship in the 2017 elections.[7]

On 14 June, the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) announced that it would drop a 30-year ban on coalitions with the far-right FPÖ under certain conditions. The party's "values compass" included a set of requirements that any coalition partner had to fulfil, including having a pro-European policy, a commitment to a minimum wage of €1,500 a month, gender equality and upholding human rights.[8]

On 27 June, Team Stronach announced that they would not contest the elections after founder Frank Stronach decided to stop all financial contributions to the party and stated his intention to leave politics.[9]

On 8 July, independent 2016 presidential candidate Irmgard Griss joined an electoral alliance with NEOS. Although not a member of the party and despite not participating in their primaries, she was given second place on the NEOS list after party leader Matthias Strolz. This measure was approved by a wide margin among delegates at a party meeting in Vienna.[10]

On 14 July, former FPÖ-leader in Salzburg Karl Schnell announced that he would run in the election with a list called "Freie Liste Österreich – Liste Dr. Karl Schnell (FLÖ)". Schnell already has the support of 3 MPs in parliament and won't need to submit 2600 signatures to be on the ballot.[11]

On 17 July, long-time Green Party MP and founding member Peter Pilz decided to leave the parliamentary club. On 25 June, a majority of Green Party delegates at a convention voted not to renew his spot on the party list for the election. Pilz has repeatedly stated interest for running his own list in the election. On 25 July, he presented his new list, Peter Pilz's List, during a press conference. Pilz already has the support of 4 MPs in parliament and won't need to submit 2600 signatures to be on the ballot.[12]

On 14 August, the SPÖ ended their co-operation with Israeli election adviser Tal Silberstein [de] after he was arrested in Israel on suspicion of money-laundering and corruption. For several years, Silberstein worked as an opinion poll and campaign strategy consultant on behalf of the Social Democratic Party.[13]

On 14 August, popular Austrian comedian Roland Düringer announced that his satirical, anti-establishment list My Vote Counts! (G!LT) collected more than 2600 signatures and will appear on the ballot in every state.[14]

On 16 August, the KPÖ+ election alliance between the Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) and the Young Greens [de] announced that they collected more than 2600 signatures and will appear on the ballot in every state. Following their expulsion from the Green Party in May, the Young Greens joined the alliance with the Communist Party.[15]

On 30 September, SPÖ general secretary and campaign manager Georg Niedermühlbichler resigned, following revelations of an internal SPÖ "dirt campaign" directed against ÖVP-leader Sebastian Kurz. The negative Facebook campaigning websites were initiated by former, controversial SPÖ adviser Tal Silberstein who got fired by the party a month before.[16] In the days following the revelations and a blame-game about the origins and responsibility in the affair, the ÖVP decided to sue the SPÖ and vice versa.[17]

On 6 October, PR adviser and former Silberstein associate Peter Puller claimed to have been offered €100,000 by the ÖVP in exchange for internal information on the SPÖ election campaign, citing a meeting between himself and a Kurz campaign official. The ÖVP are denying that any offers were made.[18]

Electoral systemEdit

The 183 members of the National Council are elected by open list proportional representation in nine multi-member constituencies based on the states (with varying in size from 7 to 36 seats) and 39 sub-constituencies. Seats are allocated using the Hare method at the sub-constituency level and the D'Hondt at the federal level, with an electoral threshold of 4% or one seat in one of the 39 sub-constituencies. Voters are able to cast a party vote and one preference votes on each the federal, state and electoral district level for their preferred candidates within that party. The thresholds for a candidate to move up the list are 7% of the candidate's party result on the federal level, 10% on the state level and 14% on the electoral district level.[19] Candidates for sub-constituency level are listed on the ballot while voters need to write-in their preferred candidate on state and federal level.

Contesting partiesEdit

 
Official election ballot (sample)
 
Election poster from the SPÖ
 
Puls 4 TV debate of the main candidates

The table below lists parties represented in the 25th National Council.

Name Ideology Leader 2013 result
Votes (%) Seats
SPÖ Social Democratic Party of Austria
Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs
Social democracy  
Christian Kern
26.8%
52 / 183
ÖVP Austrian People's Party
Österreichische Volkspartei
Christian democracy  
Sebastian Kurz
24.0%
47 / 183
FPÖ Freedom Party of Austria
Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs
Right-wing populism
Euroscepticism
 
Heinz-Christian Strache
20.5%
40 / 183
GRÜNE The Greens – The Green Alternative
Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative
Green politics  
Ulrike Lunacek
12.4%
24 / 183
FRANK Team Stronach
Team Stronach für Österreich
Classical liberalism
Right-wing populism
 
Frank Stronach
5.7%
11 / 183
NEOS NEOS – The New Austria and Liberal Forum
NEOS – Das Neue Österreich und Liberales Forum
Liberalism
Pro-Europeanism
 
Matthias Strolz
5.0%
9 / 183

Team Stronach dissolved prior to the election and did not participate.

Ballot access requirementsEdit

In order to contest the election nationwide, a party (or list) must have the support of three members of parliament or collect 2,600 valid signatures from eligible voters ahead of the elections.

Parties may contest the election in individual states only, if they so chose. To do so, they must submit a minimum number of voter signatures that varies by state as follows:

Parties were able to collect the signatures between 25 July and 18 August. The state and federal election commissions validated the signatures and announced the qualified parties on 24 August.[20]

Parties that collected enough signaturesEdit

In addition to the parties already represented in the National Council (except Team Stronach, which dissolved in August and did not contest the election), eleven parties collected enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. Five of these were cleared to be on the ballot in all states, six of them only in some.[21]

On the ballot in all 9 statesEdit

On the ballot in some states onlyEdit

Voter statisticsEdit

According to final numbers, 6,400,993 citizens older than 16 were eligible to vote in the election. A total of 3,307,645 women and 3,093,348 men were eligible to vote. The numbers also included 60,762 Austrians who had their main residence abroad, but who registered in time to vote. Despite Vienna being the most populous state, Lower Austria had the most eligible voters (1,288,802), while Burgenland had the fewest (232,740). After a period of objection, the number of eligible voters was finalized and released on 15 September by the state and federal election commissions.[22]

A total of 889,193 postal ballots had been requested ahead of the election, a new record. That number was up significantly from the election in 2013 when 668,810 ballots were requested. It was estimated that roughly 780,000 postal ballots will be cast, or about 15-16% of all ballots cast. The overwhelming majority of postal ballots was counted on Monday, 16 October and a small part on Thursday, 19 October - when the final election result was made official.[23][24]

CampaignEdit

Issues being debated included immigration, integration, crime and security, tax cuts, job creation/reducing unemployment, pensions and care for the elderly.

Opinion pollsEdit

 

ResultsEdit

Popular vote
ÖVP
31.47%
SPÖ
26.86%
FPÖ
25.97%
NEOS
5.30%
PILZ
4.41%
GRÜNE
3.80%
G!LT
0.95%
KPÖ
0.78%
Other
0.47%
National Council seats
ÖVP
33.88%
SPÖ
28.42%
FPÖ
27.87%
NEOS
5.46%
PILZ
4.37%
Party Votes % +/− Seats +/−
Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) 1,595,526 31.47 +7.48 62 +15
Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) 1,361,746 26.86 +0.04 52 ±0
Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) 1,316,442 25.97 +5.46 51 +11
NEOS – The New Austria (NEOS) 268,518 5.30 +0.34 10 +1
Peter Pilz List (PILZ) 223,543 4.41 New 8 New
The Greens – The Green Alternative (GRÜNE) 192,638 3.80 −8.62 0 −24
My Vote Counts! (G!LT) 48,234 0.95 New 0 New
Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ+) 39,689 0.78 −0.25 0 ±0
The Whites (WEIßE) 9,167 0.18 New 0 New
Free List Austria (FLÖ) 8,889 0.18 New 0 New
New Movement for the Future (NBZ) 2,724 0.05 New 0 New
Homeless in Politics (ODP) 761 0.02 New 0 New
Socialist Left Party (SLP) 713 0.01 –0.01 0 ±0
EU Exit Party (EUAUS) 693 0.01 +0.01 0 ±0
Christian Party of Austria (CPÖ) 425 0.01 –0.13 0 ±0
Men's Party (M) 221 0.00 –0.01 0 ±0
Invalid/blank votes 50,952
Total 5,120,881 100 183 0
Registered voters/turnout 6,400,993 80.00 +5.09
Source: Austrian Interior Ministry

Results by stateEdit

State ÖVP SPÖ FPÖ NEOS PILZ Grüne Others Turnout
  Burgenland 32.8 32.9 25.2 2.9 2.8 2.0 1.3 84.5
  Carinthia 26.8 29.3 31.8 4.3 3.6 2.4 1.7 78.5
  Lower Austria 35.6 24.8 25.9 4.8 4.1 2.7 1.9 84.8
  Upper Austria 31.5 27.6 26.8 4.8 3.7 3.7 1.9 81.8
  Salzburg 37.7 22.2 24.4 5.7 3.5 4.0 2.4 80.7
  Styria 31.5 25.1 29.4 5.0 3.9 2.8 2.2 79.8
  Tyrol 38.4 20.8 24.9 5.7 3.8 4.5 1.8 76.4
  Vorarlberg 34.7 17.8 24.4 9.0 3.0 7.2 3.8 72.2
  Vienna 21.6 34.5 21.3 6.5 7.5 5.9 2.8 76.1
  Austria 31.5 26.9 26.0 5.3 4.4 3.8 2.1 80.0
Source: Austrian Interior Ministry

Government formationEdit

On 20 October, Sebastian Kurz was officially instructed by Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen to form a new government.[25]

On 22 October, after Sebastian Kurz talked with all party leaders and Chancellor Kern being the last one he talked with, Kern announced that the SPÖ would prepare for opposition starting on Monday, 23 October.[26]

On 24 October, Sebastian Kurz officially invited the FPÖ to coalition talks. The FPÖ accepted this offer and first talks started on Wednesday, 25 October.[27]

On 16 December, the new ÖVP-FPÖ government was officially presented at a press conference by Sebastian Kurz and Heinz-Christian Strache. As result of the negotiations the ÖVP staffed eight cabinet posts and the FPÖ six. Each party also established an additional State Secretary. President Van der Bellen approved the new government and it was sworn in on 18 December.[28]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Austria likely takes a right turn as 31-year-old minister declares victory in election". CNBC. 15 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Kern ist offen für Gespräch mit Strache". de:Heute (österreichische Zeitung). 18 October 2017.
  3. ^ Austrian conservatives and far right to start coalition talks Politico, 24 October 2017
  4. ^ "Austrian chancellor tries to keep coalition alive after ally quits" Reuters
  5. ^ "Austrian conservatives pick Foreign Minister Kurz as leader" Reuters
  6. ^ "Grünen-Chefin Glawischnig tritt zurück" ORF
  7. ^ "Grüne: Felipe wird Obfrau, Lunacek Spitzenkandidatin" ORF
  8. ^ "Austrian Social Democrats drop ban on coalitions with far right" Reuters
  9. ^ "Team Stronach gibt auf" Die Presse
  10. ^ Griss bei NEOS-Treffen: "Große Ehre für mich" Kurier
  11. ^ Nationalratswahl: 16 Listen sammeln Unterschriften Der Standard
  12. ^ Peter Pilz kandidiert mit eigener Liste – Stern, Cox, Bohrn Mena und Kolba als Mitstreiter Der Standard
  13. ^ Austrian Social Democrats drop adviser over money-laundering probe Politico.eu
  14. ^ Düringer: "G!LT" steht bundesweit am Stimmzettel Kurier
  15. ^ KPÖ Plus steht bundesweit auf den Stimmzetteln ORF
  16. ^ Negative campaign sites scandal shakes up Austrian election race The Guardian
  17. ^ Legal writs fly as Austria’s Facebook scandal deepens: Center-right party’s spokesman accused of bribing former Social Democrat adviser. Politico.eu
  18. ^ Austria’s Haus of Cards Politico.eu
  19. ^ Vorzugsstimmenvergabe bei einer Nationalratswahl ("Preferential voting in a federal election") HELP.gv.at
  20. ^ "Nationalratswahl: Vorgezogener Termin am 15. Oktober 2017" Vienna.at
  21. ^ Nationalratswahl 2017 – die kandidierenden Parteien BMI
  22. ^ Endgültige Zahl der Wahlberechtigten BMI
  23. ^ Zahl der ausgestellten Wahlkarten BMI
  24. ^ Neuer Rekord mit 889.193 Wahlkarten ORF
  25. ^ Kurz soll neue Regierung bilden ORF
  26. ^ Kern: "Bereiten uns auf Opposition vor" Die Presse
  27. ^ Austria's far-right Freedom party invited to enter coalition talks The Guardian
  28. ^ Austrian president approves far-right Freedom party joining coalition government The Guardian

External linksEdit