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Expert sees bright future for new party

New movements have good chances to play a role in politics, according to an analyst.

Peter Ulram of public opinion research agency Ecoquest told the Salzburger Nachrichten that a new party "has the chance to win five to 10 per cent". Ulram explained that the current political environment – "diverse scandals and affairs" – posed good circumstances for upcoming organisations. However, Ulram also warned that managing to mobilise people online would not be sufficient in the long run. The Ecoquest expert explained that a "serious political concept and basic organisational structures" were essential to prevail.

Ulram said some of the recently established parties which plan to enter parliament in next year’s ballot might soon disappear again after a first shot of fame. He underlined that the past decades held several examples for such developments. Asked whether the political and public climate had been similar ever before, Ulram made aware of the late 1970s and the early 1980s when people had been displeased with the established parties because of a wide range of corruption allegations and bribery accusations.

The Ecoquest researcher said it was impossible to determine which of the five parliamentary factions would suffer the worst if an up and coming group made it into parliament in the ballot of 2013. Asked by the Salzburger Nachrichten whether the People’s Party (ÖVP) could collapse due to its ongoing internal feuding and the alleged cases of corruption, Ulram denied. He said the ÖVP usually differentiated itself from its coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPÖ), by arguing in the public. Ulram said the SPÖ did not implode in the 1980s either when several high-ranking representatives were entangled in illicit deals.

Around 29 per cent of Austrians would support the SPÖ in elections at the moment, according to research by Karmasin. The party bagged around as many votes in the most recent national ballot of 2008 (2006: 35.3 per cent). The ÖVP suffers a much stronger loss of confidence these days, according to the Karmasin poll. The public opinion investigation ranks the conservative party – which has been headed by Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger since 2011 – in second with 24 per cent, down from 26 per cent in 2008 (2006: 34.2 per cent).

The right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) of Heinz-Christian Strache would manage to make second place in elections at the moment with 26 per cent. It claimed 17.5 per cent in 2008, up sharply from 2006 when it won only 11 per cent). The Greens would now win 14 per cent. They garnered 10.4 per cent in 2008, 0.6 per cent more than in the ballot of 2006.

The reputation of SPÖ and ÖVP not only deteriorated because of claims that former and incumbent decision-makers are involved in corrupt dealings. State prosecutors are currently examining whether the accused politicians and businessmen could be charged of embezzlement and abuse of office. The government also disappointed many voters by presenting a budget consolidation package which features a whole slew of tax hikes.

Karmasin interviewed 500 Austrians to find that 45 per cent consider the package as well-balanced and fair. The same share of people has a contradicting view while 10 per cent said they had no opinion on the matter. SPÖ and ÖVP plan to introduce most of the 98 changes of the law later this year. Some aspects of the 26.5-billion-Euro pact will have effects as early as next month. The opposition branded the various measures as "ill-conceived" and "disgraceful".

Austrian Times

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