EU-election results in Austria have to be analyzed in light of the most recent political events in Austria. In the past eleven days, the “Ibiza scandal” has undermined trust in democracy and turned the Austrian political landscape upside down. A video was leaked, showing the former Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ, right-wing) and the former Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of the Freedom Party Johann Gudenus in a meeting with the niece of an alleged Russian oligarch in Ibiza in July 2017 offering Austrian contracts and assets in return for campaign support. The leaked recordings triggered a chain reaction leading to the end of the coalition government between the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Austrian Freedom Party, the announcement of snap elections in fall 2019 and the end of the current government including Chancellor Kurz after losing a no-confidence vote in today’s parliamentary session.

Speculations on the impact of “Ibiza-gate” on the EU-elections were fierce and its results heavily anticipated in Austria. To begin with, the voter turnout has risen remarkably from 45,4% in 2014 to almost 59% in 2019. The election result, moreover, constitutes a record for the Austrian People’s Party, which won these elections by a wide margin and gained 7,8% compared to the last EU-elections in 2014. The scandal-shaken Freedom Party (only) lost 2,5% compared to 2014, which was, given the circumstances, not the worst-case-scenario and a clear relief for the right-wing party. The biggest opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPÖ), did not succeed in taking advantage of the “Ibiza-gate” and lost 0,7% compared to 2014.

One of the biggest surprises of the election night was the result of the Austrian Greens, who reached 14%. Despite a small loss of 0,6%, this is remarkable considering their disastrous result in the National Elections in 2017, when the party failed to cross the 4% threshold and lost all their seats in parliament. The liberal party NEOS remained stable with a slight gain and reached 8,7%, while the Communist Party as well as the left 1EUROPA party did not achieve a single seat.

Overall, it was the Austrian Chancellor’s party that profited from either the “Ibiza-scandal” and/or the Chancellor’s performance within the past 1,5 years. Political analyses show that figure of Sebastian Kurz was of crucial importance to the voters and has been given as main reason by ÖVP supporters for their choice of party for the EU elections. Compared to the National Elections in 2017, the People’s Party mainly won votes from former voters of the Freedom Party as well as the Social Democrats and could maintain 69% of its voters of 2017.

 

In terms of mandates in the European Parliament, the ÖVP gained two seats (7 seats overall), the FPÖ lost one seat (3 overall), the SPÖ kept its 5 seats, the Greens lost one seat (2 seats overall) and the NEOS kept their one seat.

EPP (5 MEPs)

Othmar Karas will lead the OVP list for the elections, despite alleged differences…

S&D (5 MEPs)

The Social-Democratic SPÖ have chosen former party leader and current MP Andreas Schieder…

ALDE (1 MEPs)

Young MP Claudia Gamon will head the list for the liberal party Neos, who will campaign…

GREENS (3 MEPs)

The Green Party  suffered a debacle at the last national parliamentary elections and lost…

ENF (4 MEPs)

The FPÖ will again run an anti-European campaign with its main focus on migration and…